Why Kwadwo Asamoah Will Be the Player to Watch at the African Cup of Nations
We know Didier Drogba will lead the Ivory Coast, and we know Zambia will be hard-pushed to repeat the heroics of 2012.
What we don't know is who the star of the tournament will be. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang pulled up some serious trees in last year's edition, but who will be the player to captivate the public in the 2013 African Cup of Nations?
Kwadwo Asamoah should be watched carefully.
The Ghanaian dynamo has become a well-rounded player and enters this tournament in full fitness and prime form. The only question mark remains over which position coach Kwesi Appiah uses him in, and it's a decision he has to get right.
Asamoah made his name as a box-to-box midfielder, playing primarily in the attacking midfield position, for Udinese during the 2011-12 campaign.
After signing for Juventus in a co-ownership deal this summer, Antonio Conte and Massimo Carrera made the odd move of asking him to play left-wing-back. It's a testament to his ability as a footballer that he aced the role straight away despite never playing there before.
With Conte's "MVP" midfield of Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo performing superbly, there was no way to slot the Ghanaian in. The same applied to Mauricio Isla, who timeshares the right-wing-back role with Stephan Lichtsteiner and occasionally cameos on the left.
Despite playing out of position with the Bianconeri, Asamoah will likely have assumed that he'd reclaim his place as an attacking midfielder for the Black Stars. Wrong.
In Ghana's warm-up 3-0 win over Egypt on January 10th, Asamoah played left-back while six players took roles in midfield as Appiah tinkered with his side using substitutes.
The likes of Anthony Annan, Derek Boateng and Christian Atsu found playing time in the centre, but Asamoah completed 90 minutes from left-back.
What's more of a concern is that, if Asamoah is to take up the central role in a 4-2-3-1, the other left-back options are sparse; one-cap Richard Kissi Boateng is the other option at left-back.
But wherever he plays, Asamoah is worth watching.
From left-back he will race forward, keep the pitch wide and have a huge impact on the game from the sideline without even touching the ball. His left foot is excellent and he will consume the opposing right-back and right-winger's defensive duties single-handedly.
From central midfield, he will be the bonafide workhorse that grabs opponents by the scruff of the neck and takes the game to them. His positive energy, vertical runs and explosive nature is something fans love to see.
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