The Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah has eulogised Opoku Afriyie and Kwasi Owusu, two former Black Stars strikers who died over the weekend.
In his statement, Mr Asiamah said he deeply regrets the demise of the pair.
His tribute to Opoku Afriyie described the former Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak star as a prolific scorer who has paid his dues to the nation.
“The late football icon contributed immensely to the development of football as a player, coach and as an administrator. He dedicated his whole life to the sport and exhibited a great sense of discipline, valour and sportsmanship both on and off the field of play.”
“He has paid his dues to the nation in the field of football in Ghana. The nation and the football fraternity have lost a precious football gem. His memories will forever remain in our hearts. Our prayers and feelings are with the family in these difficult moments.”
Kwasi Owusu who died a day after Afriyie’s demise was described by the Minister as the only player to score four goals in a game for the Black Stars and a “football artiste”
Below is the full statement from the Sports Minister:
Ministry of Youth and Sports Commiserates with the Family of the late Opoku Afriyie and Kwasi Owusu.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports, on behalf of Government and the people of Ghana, especially the football fraternity, expresses its regret at the untimely demise of Opoku Afriyie, affectionately called Bayie in football circles because of his prolific ability to score goals. His demise occurred yesterday, 29th March, 2020 at the age of 65. The late football icon contributed immensely in the development of football as a player, Coach and as an administrator. He dedicated his whole life to the sport and exhibited great sense of discipline, valour and sportsmanship both on and off the field of play.
The late Opoku Afriyie featured for the two most glamourous clubs in the country, Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko. He also played for the national football team, the Black Stars. He has paid his dues to the nation in the field of football in Ghana.
The nation and the football fraternity have lost a precious football gem. His memories will forever remain in our hearts. Our prayers and feelings are with the family in these difficult moments.
In another related development, the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations star, Kwasi Owusu has also been confirmed dead at the age of 78. Kwasi Owusu, also known as ‘Powerhouse’, due to his soccer artistry was a former Bofoakwa Tano striker, who was Ghana’s top scorer as they finished second at the 1970 AFCON in Sudan, and is on record to have been the only player to have scored four goals in a single game for the Black Stars, passed on in Sunyani a day after the passing of Opoku Afriyie.
May their souls rest in perfect peace.
HON. ISAAC KWAME ASIAMAH (MP)
Minister for Youth and Sports.*
Tributes have been pouring in from all over the world following the demise of both Afriyie and Owusu.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino said Afriyie’s legacy would never be forgotten in a statement.
Black Stars head coach, Charles Kwablan Akonnor said he was saddened by Afriyie’s death and that he would “forever be in my heart”
Former Black Stars captain, Asamoah Gyan earlier expressed his sorrow over Afriyie’s death, describing him as the ‘striker’s striker’.
Opoku Afryie, admired throughout his professional career for his wonderful finishing ability, was one of the few players to play for Ghana’s two biggest clubs; Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
His time at the Kumasi club was probably more significant as he captained the side and he went on to become the club’s team manager in 2003, a job he later took up for the Black Stars as well.
He was top scorer in Ghana’s top-flight twice in his career; in 1979 and two years later in 1981, when he led Kotoko to the league title.
Afriyie made his mark for the national team as well playing in Ghana’s 1978 AFCON-winning team and scoring both goals in the final as Ghana won the cup for keeps against Uganda.
He also scored in Ghana’s opening group game at that tournament; a 2-1 win over Zambia.
Afriyie was ranked the eighth-best player in Africa in 1982.
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