Soccer News of Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Source: Kwame Anane, FRANCE

Andre Ayew – The other star who rivaled Beckham on his debut!

Ghana’s Andre Ayew was one of the star performers last Sunday, on one of the biggest nights of French football this season at the Parc des princes in Paris.

Despite his Marseille side losing the crucial top of the table clash away to the ‘nouveau riche’ PSG, Ayew’s general performance and attitude throughout the entire game attracted the praise of a lot of French fans.

Almost a full week ahead of Sunday’s French ‘Classico’ between PSG and Olympique Marseille, there was only one major name making the headlines – the possible debut of a certain 37 year old David Beckham! Of course the 2-0 victory strengthened PSG’s position at the top of the table, eight points ahead of Marseille who are third with 46 points in 26 games. It was such a big win for the Parisians who are pushing for their first league title since 1994. However, it was on such a night that Andre Ayew further created a niche for himself in the eyes of the watching football world. Despite the disappointing defeat, the Marseille number 10 playing up front as part of a trio of Kadir and Gignac was a thorn in the flesh of the PSG defence all night. But for an over stretched finger tip save from Parisian goalkeeper Sirigu, Ayew’s dipping header would have brought the score to 1-1 on the 75th minute.

It wasn’t only in attack that the Black Stars midfielder caught the eye. His general play and defensive work rate was such a delight to watch and encouragement to his team. During the first half he went into a committed tackle with Ibrahimovic – who is almost twice his own size and for a brief moment the Marseille medical team thought Ayew had come out of the challenge worse off. This is from a player who has been blighted by injury this season!

His personal performance on the night epitomised the general attitude of the entire Marseille team who battled and dominated play but were equally unlucky to finish empty handed. The good news for the Southerners and Ayew is that they will have a swift opportunity to get some revenge on PSG in the Coupe de France this Wednesday; again at the same venue in Paris!

Watching Andre Ayew’s club form this season, you will no doubt notice a fitter and much physically stronger player but with the same attitude of leadership and commitment he has shown since being a teenager. He’s made 33 appearances this season and contributed 10 goals. Second joint top scorer for the club with his brother Jordan!

According to his coach Elie Baup, Ayew brings a certain maturity and focus to the team that belies his age and official position. ‘He seems to thrive on the challenge of responsibility’ Baup said.

With the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Sudan coming up on March 22nd, it is a relief for most Ghanaians to see Andre and Jordan in such a fine club form. There’s also the real possibility that they will join up with Kwesi Appiah’s team once again. The quality, vision, and charisma of the duo should add something else to the Black Stars.

In the meantime, there’s a lot on the plate for Olympique Marseille. After Wednesday’s repeat clash with PSG in the French cup, they have to focus on climbing up the table or consolidating their hold on the third champions league place because Nice who are in fourth position are breathing down their necks – there is only a point separating both clubs.