Black Stars’ Jordan has big shoes to fill … and shine
JORDAN Ayew is referred to firstly as the son of the legendary Abedi Pele, then the younger brother of the sensational Andre, before he is his own man. That leaves him with little room to be average as the holder of the famous Ayew surname.
He has struggled to step out of the huge shadow his father and brother have cast over him. But against Mali, he showed glimpses that he could be his own man. Jordan doesn’t do the leading role well, which is why he is constantly criticised and labelled as an average player. But he is one hell of a team player.
In the 1-0 Afcon win over Mali, he covered more ground than any of the Black Stars’ attack-minded players.
He even came up with the assist that allowed Asamoah Gyan to break the record as the Ghanaian with the most goals in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Gyan overtook Jordan’s brother Andre with his eighth goal. That goal also booked Ghana a place in the quarterfinals with a game to spare.
“Two of our stars here aren’t 100 percent fit. That’s Asamoah and Andre, who is coming back from an injury. I have to run an extra mile to cover for them, for the good of the team. I do that with a good heart and a good spirit because the important thing is the team,” Jordan Ayew said.
“We are proud and happy that we have qualified for the knockout stage with a game to spare.
“In the last edition, it was a bit difficult because we started with a loss (yet went on to reach the final). This year we started better and won the first two games. That’s a big positive as a team. It has brought a lot of confidence and lifted the spirit in the camp.”
Ayew’s confidence has been gradually improving in this tournament.
He will look to take it up a notch tonight in Port-Gentil during Ghana’s last Group D match against Egypt. The Pharaohs must avoid defeat to go through to the last eight.
Mali, who will be in Oyem against Uganda at the same time, need to win by more than three goals and hope the Black Stars beat Egypt to make it to the quarters.
Ayew looked insulted at being asked if his confidence is growing.
“I am always confident,” he snapped. “I know the quality I have. The coach has confidence in me. There is no problem. The players have confidence in me.”
If Ghana top Group D, as they are expected to do, they will remain in Port-Gentil with its patchy pitch to take on the Group C runners-up in the quarter-finals.
“We all know the situation about the pitch,” Ayew said. “We aren’t going to use that as an excuse. It’s affecting my game, our team’s game and all the other teams playing here. No one has an advantage, so you just have to be smarter and play the conditions. We changed our game, we were more direct. We played long balls and had to be fast for the second ball. It has worked perfectly.
Ayew continued: “In football they remember who won. They don’t remember how you played and who had more possession. If you go back to the two finals we played, against Egypt and Ivory Coast, we were better than them in terms of possession but they won.
“Everyone remembers winners, not how we played. We have that winning mentality now and we have to keep on winning.”