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Ghana-Nigeria Combined XI: Iroha vs Asamoah

04:18 GMT+3 17/03/2022
Iroha Asamoah - Ghana-Nigeria
Who takes the left-back berth in our Dream Team?

  • Mikel Essien Finidi

    Ghana-Nigeria Combined XI

    Ahead of next week’s World Cup qualifying double header between Nigeria and Ghana, GOAL Africa are picking our dream combined XI between these two West African heavyweights.

    Both the Super Eagles and the Black Stars have storied histories in continental and global competition, and our shortlist for this combined Dream Team was overflowing with elite African talent.

    Vincent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo have already made the cut, but who will join them in the backline?

  • Ben Iroha

    International career

    Asamoah, despite missing two Afcons during his self-enforced international exile, has actually featured in five tournaments, reaching the semis on four occasions and the final once.

    He was once named in the Team of the Tournament, and it’s tantalising to imagine what the Black Stars could have achieved had he been present for their 2015 and 2017 campaigns.

    The ex-Internazionale man has actually represented Ghana at the World Cup on two occasions, and was a key figure in the team that reached the quarter-finals in 2010.

    The Black Stars’ achievement in South Africa—when they came within a whisker of the final four—represents the third (and to date, last) time an African nation has gone that far, and it’s a notable feather in the cap for the high-profile players in that squad.

    Iroha was a member of Nigeria’s Golden Generation, like Asamoah, playing for the national side at two World Cups—in 1994 and 1998.

    He reached the knockouts in the former campaign, and also won the Nations Cup at his only attempt—in 1994—when he was named in the Team of the Tournament.

    Winner: Iroha

  • Kwadwo Asamoah

    Club Career

    Asamoah has won the Italian championship six times—more than any other African player—and in fact, no African player has won a single European league more times than the versatile wideman.

    It’s a remarkable achievement, although one for which Asamoah doesn’t truly get the credit he deserves.

    Similarly, injuries undermined his contribution to two of those successes, and he only managed 18 league appearances across the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

    Nonetheless, he was a valued contributor in one of the most successful teams ever seen in Italian football, and was part of the side that reached the Champions League final in 2015.

    Iroha can’t compete with Asamoah’s club successes, even if he was a Nigerian champion with Heartland FC during the early days of his career.

    He spent time in the Netherlands, Spain, the United States and England, although didn’t come close with the kind of status and standing Asamaoh enjoyed.

    Winner: Asamoah

  • Kwadwo Asamoah & Paul Pogba of Juventus

    Individual Accolades

    Despite winning two Ghanaian Player of the Year awards, Asamoah has found individual honours relatively few and far between during his career.

    However, he was named in Caf’s Team of the Year in 2014—probably his best year—and also made the Serie A Team of the Year for the same campaign.

    For context of the latter achievement, he’s one of only four African players ever to be included in the seasonal XI.

    Iroha’s career across three continents, and his half century of Nigeria caps, yielded precious few individual honours although, as mentioned, he did make the Team of the Tournament during the 1994 Afcon.

    Winner: Asamoah

  • Ben Iroha

    Ability

    Asamoah’s versatility and career trajectory can make his ability somewhat difficult to evaluate.

    Initially a central midfielder when he took his first steps in Europe with Udinese, he played in the heart of the park for Ghana at the 2014 World Cup, but was actually as a versatile left-sider that he enjoyed most of his Juve success.

    Energetic, disciplined, creative, intelligent and boasting immense stamina, Asamoah boasted all of the tools to be an excellent wing-back, although we never truly got to see how he could have excelled as a central midfielder for a major European side.

    Iroha also benefited from versatility to make his name as a left-sided defender, having begun his career as a midfielder, and was a solid and rugged option at full-back.

    Going forward, he had the technical ability to influence the play, although like Asamoah, injuries dented his impact.

    Winner: Asamoah

  • Kwadwo Asamoah

    Who makes the cut?

    Asamoah becomes the first Ghanaian to make our combined XI as he sees off Iroha to take his place in our Dream Team.

    The versatile left-sider may not have truly realised his potential at international level - despite reaching the World Cup quarter-final - but his successes in Italy make him one of the most decorated African players in history, and he's a worthy addition to our combined XI.

    Winner: Asamoah