By Akyereko Frimpong Manson
Follow Akyereko on Twitter: @Akyereko
With 2013 set to fade out, GHANAsoccernet.com looks back at the last 12 months and selects Ghanaian players who distinguished themselves on the pitch for both club and country.
Criteria: All Ghanaian players (both local and foreign-based) were considered by our team and we have settled on the best 11 for the 2013.
Adam Kwarasey – Black Stars & Stromsgodset
Despite failing to make any significant appearances for Ghana in the entire year, the 26-year-old captured the first choice place at Stromsgodset and completed all 30 games of the season and conceding just 26 times.
The former Norway U21 shot-stopper has a trophy to show for the year after winning the Norwegian Eliteserien title with Stromsgodset.
Other options considered for the position: Fatau Dauda – Orlando Pirates, Daniel Agyei – Free State Stars, Isaac Amoako – Asante Kotoko
Daniel Opare Tawiah – Black Stars & Standard Liege
After missing out of the 2013 AFCON squad, the former Real Madrid Castilla defender bombed his way back into the Ghana squad and played an influential role in helping Ghana secure a ticket for the 2014 World Cup finals.
Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah had the luxury of shifting him before the lateral defense and he was overly successful.
Opare has become a favourite for Guy Luzon at Standard Liege due to his high efficiency and featured in 29 Pro League games from January picking 8 yellow cards in the process.
Other options considered for the position: Samuel Inkoom FC Dnipro, Richard Kissi-Boateng – TP Mazembe, Razak Nuhu – Stromsgodset
Harrison Afful – Black Stars & Esperance de Tunis
The former Asante Kotoko defender reached the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League with his Tunisian side Esperance and also lifted the Tunisian Ligue 1 trophy with Esperance.
The 27-year-old played 13 times for Ghana in the calender year, including the World Cup qualifiers.
Other options considered for the position: David Addy, Nana Akwasi Asare and Richard Kissi-Boateng
Jerry Akaminko – Black Stars & Eskisehirspor
Though the former Heart of Lions man has excelled in the Turkish top-flight and drew attention from French giants A.S Monaco, the highlight of the season will obviously be his performance for the Black Stars in the 2014 World Cup qualifying play-off victory over Egypt.
After an eight-month absence from international action, the 25-year-old returned with Jonathan Mensah and John Boye unavailable with injuries and glittered, drawing praise from AC Milan ace Sulley Muntari and Chelsea star Michael Essien.
Monaco have tabled a 9 million Euro bid to sign him next month.
Other options considered for the position: Jonathan Mensah, John Boye, Davidson Drobo-Ampem
Rashid Sumaila – Black Stars & Mamelodi Sundowns
From his loan days at Kotoko, the 20-year-old became a massive revelation and proved his quality and exposition of talent in the latter parts of the year.
In a stop-gap role, he was able to stop Muhamed Aboutreika and frustrate Mohamed Salah – the man referred to as the Egyptian Messi.
He has walked his way into the Sundowns regular squad and commands a first team place at the club on his debut season.
Rabiu Mohammed – Black Stars & Kuban Krasnodar
While Michael Essien was in his resuscitation period and away from international duty, Rabiu used 2013 to remind us Ghana can have just a quality replacement for Essien. And, he did that at the 2013 AFCON.
The lanky midfield workhorse advertised his qualities in South African and perpetuated it at club level for both Evian TG and Kuban Krasnodar.
He missed the last three months of the year with injury.
Other options considered for the position: Michael Essien, Isaac Cofie, Yussif Chibsah
Kwadwo Asamoah – Black Stars and Juventus
Asamoah won two trophies in the calender year with Juventus after winning the Supercoppa Italia and winning the 2012/13 Scudetto title.
The former Liberty Professionals man translated his club form to country and helped the Black Stars to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, scoring a crucial match winner against Zambia in September.
Other options considered for the position: Sulley Muntari
Andre Ayew – Black Stars & Olympique Marseille
The 23-year-old has been the standout player for Marseille despite their turbulent season which saw them fail to win a single game in the Uefa Champions League group stage.
Particularly in Marseille’s game away at Napoli, Ayew put up a courageous display scoring a fine finish.
The year also saw him return to national team and helped the Black Stars beat Zambia and Egypt to reach Rio 2014.
Other options considered for the position: Wakaso Mubarak, Christian Atsu and Albert Adomah, Ishmael Yartey, Frank Acheampong
Ebenezer Assifuah – Ghana U20 & FC Sion
Assifuah ruled the world with his prolific striking instincts as he won the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup after netting six goals to emerge top-scorer at the competition.
The 20-year-old then switched club to join FC Sion in Switzerland where he has kept his form in the first half of the season scoring as many as 8 goals for the club (including goals for the U21 side).
Initially, the bulldozing striker had to work his way into the Sion first team squad and he forced his way through proving his credentials at the U21 level.
Assifuah is a talent for the future.
Other options considered for the position: Shadrach Eghan
Abdul Majeed Waris – Black Stars & Spartak Moscow
If there is any player who made his name in the second half of 2013, then it is Abdul Majeed Waris.
The young striker failed to allow his disappointments at club level to influence his form at national team as he scored three crucial goals to contribute to Ghana’s 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
His show against Egypt in Kumasi was the highlight of his year. He also grabbed his first goal for Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League before the Christmas break.
Other options considered for the position: Mahatma Otoo and David Accam
Asamoah Gyan – Black Stars & Al Ain
Gy-giantic Striker of the Years! The Black Stars captain emerged top-scorer in the continent’s qualifiers for Brazil and led Ghana to a successful campaign.
He won a league title with Al Ain in the UAE Pro League and decorated himself with a personal award after scoring 31 league goals.
Other options considered for the position: Fred Benson, Samuel Afum, Richmond Boakye-Yiadom
Do you think other players performed better and should have been in the Top 11 players of 2013? Let’s know what you have to say.