Honour Ghanaians who have played in the semis of the UEFA Champions League

Ghanaian players have contributed in generating excitement in the world's elite continental club competition over the years.

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Pulse Sports presents to you the list of all Ghanaian players who have helped their clubs reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, after Kwadwo Asamoah and Thomas Partey helped Juventus and Atletico Madrid respectively to reach the last four of the ongoing European Cup.

Abedi Pele Ayew

 

play Abedi Pele on the move against AC Milan

 

The first Ghanaian to play in the semi-finals of the European Cup was Abedi Pele Ayew. He was part of the great Olympique Marseille team that reached the last four of the 1989-1990 championship, yet they failed to reach the final via the away goal rule against Benfica. They won 2-1 in France and lost the second leg 0-1 in Portugal.

Abedi would repeat this feat the following season. This time they came face to face with the Russian club Spartak Moscow. Abedi Pele was rampant as he scored in both legs to propel his side to the final- a 1-3 away win and 2-1 win at home was enough.

They set a date with Yugoslav side Red Star Belgrade, who had reached the final by mapping up a defensive strategy. Olympique Marseille dominated play, but Red Star defended well to force the game into a penalty shootout, which they knew they had practiced well, because it had been introduced as a tie breaking exercise whenever a game ended in a draw in the Yugoslavian topflight league at the time. The less fancied side won 5-3 on penalties to become European champions.

Abedi Pele would contribute immensely when Marseille emerged champions in the 1992-93 season, but there was no semi-finals stage: Instead, there was a league format with two different groups which had four clubs, each making a total of eight clubs. The ones that topped the group qualified automatically to play in the final.

AC Milan paired Marseille in the final and Abedi Pele produced a moment of magic by locating teammate Basile Boli with an incisive corner which was headed in to crown the French side as champions of Europe.

Osei Kuffour had played in the semis of the UEFA Champions League than any other Ghanaian - four in total, before he was surpassed by Michael Essien in the 2012-13 season. The journey began in the 1994-95 season against Ajax, but the young exciting team put together by Luis Van Gaal held the Bavarian giants to a goalless draw in Germany, before they thrashed them 5-2 in back in the Netherlands to end their hopes of making the final. Ajax went on to stun the more fancied AC Milan in the final.

In 1999 Osei Kuffour and his Bayern Munich side would overcome Dynamo Kyiv 4-3 on aggregate to book a titanic clash with Manchester United in the final. The final generated much drama, as the German giants conceded two late goals to throw away their one goal lead, suffering a heart-breaking defeat.

Kuffour would play in another semi in 2000, but he was unfortunate to face a well-rehearsed Real Madrid side. The Spanish giants won 3-2 on aggregate to dispatch Bayern Munich.

However, they would earn revenge in 2001 when an all-conquering Bayern Much outfit edged out Real Madrid 1-0 in Germany and again won 1-2 in Spain. Bayern Munich would then overcome another Spanish opposition, Valencia on penalties to win their first European Cup title since 1974.

Read more: Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien banned from Indonesia

Ibrahim Tanko

play Ibrahim Tanko

 

He played a part when Borussia Dortmund reached the semi-finals and subsequent beat champions Juventus 3-1 to win the championship in the 1996-97 season.

The Borussians defeated Manchester United 2-0 on aggregate to navigate through to the semi-fnals stage.

 

Eric Addo

play Eric Addo

 

The midfielder who would later turn a defender contributed to the giant step made by the 1988 champion, PSV Eindhoven into the last four in the 2004-05 season.

 

Michael Essien

play Michael Essien

 

The former Lyon midfielder beat Samuel Osei Kuffour’s feat of four UEFA Champions League semi-final berths. He also won one and finished runners-up in two grand finales.

In 2005-06 season his side Chelsea lost on penalties to Liverpool, but came back stronger the following season to beat Liverpool via the same penalty shootout to avenge the defeat. However, in the final against another English opposition, Manchester United, they ironically lost through the same process that took them to the final - penalty shootouts - as they failed to repeat the heroic feat against Liverpool.

The Blues lost the 2008-09 semis to Barcelona through the away goal rule, which was indeed frustrating, since they had had several penalty appeals rejected by the referee, before Andres  Iniesta scored a late equaliser to put Barcelona through to the final at Chelsea’s expense.

Michael Essien and Chelsea would gain revenge over Barcelona when they defeated them 3-2 to reach the final in the 2011-12 season. In a grueling final, they beat Bayern Munich at their own backyard (Allianz Arena in Munich) via penalties to emerge as the first London club to win the European Cup. 

Michael Essien, after featuring four times for Chelsea in the semis of the European Cup would make it a fifth time in the 2012-13 season with Real Madrid, where he was on loan. This enabled him break the four-time semi-final record held by Samuel Osei Kuffour.

Real Madrid, however, lost 4-3 on aggregate against Dortmund in that semi final clash.

 

Han Adu Sarpei

play Hans Adus Sarpei

 

The former Black Stars defender was part of the Schalke O4 team that reached the semis in the 2010-11. His side lost 6-1 on aggregate to Manchester United in the semis to deny them a place in the final.

 

Sulley Muntari

play Sulley Muntari on the left with Eto'o on the right

 

Muntari and Inter Milan on their way to becoming the first Italian club to win a historic treble had to clear Barcelona out of their way in the last four. They won 3-1 at home and lost 0-1 away to reach the final. They defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 to make the final tie an easy one.

 

Kwadwo Asamoah

play Kwadwo Asamoah

The Ghanaian midfielder was part of Juventus team that eliminated Real Madrid from the European Cup semis in the 2014-15 season. They won 2-1 at home and held the champions to a 1-1 draw to make it to the final.

However, they succumbed to an all-attacking Barcelona side to lose 3-1 in the final.

Kwadwo Asamoah is again part of the current Juventus team that has reached the semis of this year's Champions League.

Thomas Teye Partey

play Thomas Partey

 

The Ghanaian youngster contributed his quota as Atletico Madrid kicked out Bayern Munich, one of the favourites to annex the UEFA Champions League, via the away goal rule in semi-final of the 2015-16 season. The Madrid giants won 1-0 in Spain and lost 1-2 in the return fixture in Munich to reach the final in Milan against Real Madrid.

In the end, Partey and his Atletico Madrid side failed to stand the might of their city rivals in a nervous penalty shootout to lose the trophy - and derby bragging rights.

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