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Sports News of Monday, 30 March 2020

Source: Pulse Ghana

Opoku Afriyie: The wizardry goal poacher whose death has left Ghanaian in tears

One of Ghana’s finest goal scorer of all-time has passed away in the person of Opoku Afriyie popularly known in the football cycle as Bayie.

His sudden demise occurred in Kumasi after a short illness.

Opoku Afriyie indeed paid his dues to the football fraternity from his playing days until his rise to an administrative role as the Team Manager of both Asante Kotoko and the senior national team the Black Stars.

Afriyie was born to Nana Kofi Poku, Oyokohene of Kumasi, and Madam Abena Mansah on 2nd February, 1955.

He started his football career at the age of 10 while playing for Kumasi Hearts Babies, a colts club in the Ashanti Regional capital.

He joined Asante Kotoko in 1975 and became an instant hit in the team, combining effectively with Gordon Prempeh and other strikers at the club to torment several outfits.

One of the teams that suffered most in the hands of Opoku Afriyie was Accra Hearts of Oak. He led the execution as the Porcupine Warriors walloped the Phobians 0-3 in Accra in July 1980 in what remains the worst defeat suffered by the Accra giants at home in the league.

Mama Acquah the oldest player at Hearts of Oak wept after the game.

Afriyie who passed away at the age of 60 inspired Asante Kotoko to win four league titles 1975, 1980, 1981 and 1982.

He was the top of the Ghanaian topflight league in 1979 and 1981 which scored 21 of the entire 39 goals Asante Kotoko registered on the road to winning the league.

'Bayie' as he is affectionately called in addition led Kotoko to reach the final of the 1982 Africa Champions Cup but they lost against Al Ahly.

His career took a nosedive when he was sacked from Asante Kotoko by Yaw Bawuah, chairman of the club over alleged indiscipline.

Opoku Afriyie didn’t play football in the entire 1983 season, but Hearts of Oak gambled to sign him in the 1984 season.

Hearts of Oak fans for the joy of signing a big fish from Asante Kotoko nick-named him Nii Opoku.

He helped the Phobians to win the Ghana league in 1984.

At the national team level, Opoku Afriyie was also a tormentor-in-chief in the shirt of the Black Stars. He would forever be remembered for scoring the two goals as Ghana defeated Uganda to win the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations staged on home soil.

Opoku Afriyie also represented Ghana in 1982, but despite not getting much playing time he played a key role off the field of play to help Ghana win their 4th Africa Cup of Nations title.

Afriyie would later become the Team Manager of the Black Stars and Asante Kotoko.

He was part of the technical team of the Black Stars when Ghana qualified for their maiden FIFA World Cup staged in 2006 and also during the 2010 Mundial.

A lot of the Black Stars players speak highly of his ability to relate very well with players.

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