African players week in Europe: Ayew brothers head for Africa on a high

AFP, Monday 9 Jan 2012

Africa Cup of Nations-bound brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew of Ghana said an appropriate goodbye to Marseille with goals in the French Cup at the weekend

Jordan Ayew

Jordan scored twice and 2011 CAF Footballer of the Year bronze medalist Andre once in a 5-0 romp over third-tier Red Star before jetting to South Africa for a pre-tournament camp.

The Ayews are sons of Ghana legend Abedi 'Pele' Ayew and will be joined in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea this month by dozens of Europe-based African stars for the 16-nation tournament.



AARON MOKOENA (Portsmouth)

The South Africa 2010 World Cup captain and Pompey defender came close to breaking the deadlock away to Chelsea when he headed over the crossbar and had a generally solid game before a flurry of late goals saw his side beaten 4-0.



The much travelled Democratic Republic of Congo forward, who had successful spells in England with Newcastle and Portsmouth, put Championship side Blackpool on their way to a 5-1 win at non-league Fleetwood when he latched onto a through-ball and chipped the opener over an onrushing goalkeeper. The 31-year-old celebrated with his trademark backflip.



The Nigeria striker scored his fifth goal of the season, and third in his last five appearances, when he grabbed the opener in a 4-2 win over Cardiff. Although he appeared offside when receiving Craig Dawson's downfield punt, there was no flag, and he made made no mistake from 18 yards with a powerful shot.




ABOU MAIGA (Saint-Colomban Locmine)

Beninese striker Maiga played a starring role as fifth-tier Locmine threatened to pull off one of the great French Cup upsets against the might of big-spending Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain. Having hit the bar in the fifth minute, Maiga coolly dispatched a 72nd-minute penalty that cancelled out Javier Pastore's opener for the visitors. However, with extra time beckoning at Lorient's Stade du Moustoir, Diego Lugano netted an injury-time header that gave PSG a 2-1 win and broke Locmine's valiant resistance.



Ghana's Ayew brothers signed off for the Cup of Nations with a pair of fine performances as Marseille thrashed third-division Red Star 5-0 at Stade de France to claim their place in the last 32. Younger sibling Jordan book-ended the scoring with a brace of well-taken strikes, while Andre netted the third goal by whipping a free-kick into the top-right corner.



In one of only two all-Ligue 1 ties, Rennes eased past Nancy 3-0. Togolese international forward Boukari claimed Rennes' third goal two minutes before half-time when he finished deftly following good work from Burkinabe winger Jonathan Pitroipa.





The Ghana midfielder was given a new position in the 2-0 win at Atalanta but still managed to have a decisive impact. Boateng popped up eight minutes from time to crash home a shot from six yards in off the bar after being set up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic to kill the game with the second goal. Instead of his usual trequartista position behind the front two, he was asked to play in a half-winger position. Boateng was booked but his robust play proved vital in his team's success.



The Ghana midfielder signed off before heading to the Cup of Nations with a goal in his side's 4-1 win over lowly Cesena. Asamoah doesn't score many but he notched the crucial second when his powerful, swerving strike from 20 yards deceived goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli and seemed to almost go straight through the 42-year-old. When Cesena were then reduced to 10 men it was plain sailing for Udinese who kept pace with the top two, although Asamoah will be sorely missed for the next month.





The Ivory Coast midfielder has made a big impact for Espanyol this season and was a combative force as they managed to hold Barcelona 1-1 in the Catalan derby. The 28-year-old was involved in a moment of controversy shortly before half-time when he was overly aggressive in a challenge with Gerard Pique, leading with his arm for an aerial ball, and was lucky to escape with a yellow card.



It was difficult for Kone to make an impact in the 0-0 draw with Mallorca as, after a bright start from Levante, the visitors came more and more into the match and the Ivorian found himself without much support in attack. Midway through the second half Kone did hit the back of the net but was fractionally offside and moments later he was unable to steer a cross over the line from close range.


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