Former Black Stars and Asante Kotoko midfield legend, Abdul Karim Razak, has named himself in a dream team Ghana’s all-time best players, a Black Stars team which could have conquered the world had they played together at the FIFA World Cup.
From goalkeeping, through defence, midfield to attack, Razak picked a crack all-time Black Stars squad which he believed could have ruled Africa and the world if they had belonged to one generation.
Speaking to Graphic Sports Online in an exclusive interview on his dream team for Ghana, the 1987 African Footballer of the Year, upon a deep reflection named Joseph ‘The Cat’ Carr, P.S.K. Paha, Ofei Ansah, Addo Odametey, James Kuuku Dadzie, Ibrahim Sunday, Osei Kofi, Aggrey-Fynn, Opoku Afriyie, and Abedi Ayew Pele as the best ever he had witnessed.
However, Razak’s selection did not include latter-day greats such as Stephen Appiah who led Ghana to its maiden FIFA World Cup appearance in 2006, Asamoah Gyan, who is Ghana’s all-time leading goalscorer and a key member of Ghana’s FIFA World Cup teams of 2006, 2010 and 2014; and midfield powerhouse Michael Essien who at a time was Ghana’s leading player.
In selecting Carr -- who was Kotoko goalkeeper when they club won the African Clubs Championship in 1983 - as the best among the lot, Razak said playing alongside him in the national team and at club level was a booster for his teammates.
“He (Carr) was not only confident in keeping the post but was very brave with some quick reflexes, good anticipation and agility in stopping attackers in their track before they could cause havoc. It was because of his sharp reflexes and agility that he was nicknamed the “The Cat, Carr is a legend in goalkeeping because he won the AFCON titles in 1978 and 1982, as well as the Africa Clubs Championship trophy with Kotoko in 1983.
He won many trophies for Kotoko, so in my dream team, Carr would have been my best choice.”
At the right back position, Razak named P.S.K. Paha and explained that with both Sekondi Eleven Wise and the Black Stars, Paha was considered as a strong pillar in defence.
“He was a very strong guy and had much strength in both legs. He was fast with the ball and could attack quickly and fall back to defend as well. He played a major role to help Ghana win the AFCON 1978 trophy and I am yet to see defenders who can match up to his style of play,” he noted.
While choosing Ofei Ansah at the left back position, Razak recalled his style of play for both Accra Hearts of Oak and the Black Stars during his prime, noting that “he had power in both legs, was very fast with the ball, a good free-kick taker and fearless in attack, especially during tension-packed matches. He could take freekicks from different angles and score. He could join the attack when necessary and quickly fall back to defend to keep his team in control.”
Though he never played with the late Addo Odametey, he said his choice of him for the centre back position was due to the little he saw of him in his active days.
“He won the AFCON in 1963 and 1965 for Ghana and was nicknamed “Stopper” because of the way he denied his markers the opportunity to win the ball either in the air or on the ground,” he revealed.
Describing James Kuuku Dadzie as a “Cool and collected “ defender, Razak said he was like a modern day libero who never cleared the ball anyhow but was a trusted player who always joined the attack with his wall passes and occasionally scored important goals naturally.”
Former Kotoko and Black Stars skipper, Ibrahim Sunday, was Razak’s best central midfielder as he described the former African Best Player as a gifted left-footed player who easily controlled games with his high sense of good ball control, distribution and goal-scoring prowess which was an envy to many opposing players, as well as an inspiration to the younger generation of which he was part.
“It was due to such qualities that he won Sunday the Africa Footballer of the Year award in 1971. And for me, he is not only a legend but one of the most talented footballers Ghana has ever produced,” he affirmed.
In selecting Osei Kofi for the right wing, Razak said the brief period he played with the ‘Dribbling Wizard’ revealed that he was not only nimble-footed but could also weave through a cluster of defenders to score important goals.
He said in spite of his diminutive stature, Osei Kofi feared no foe and succeeded in running past stronger defenders to score goals that won many titles for Kotoko and the Black Stars.
Aggrey-Fynn, who was one of the midfielders in Razak’s dream team, was also described as “Master on the field.”
“I saw little about him but I noticed that he was a ball juggler and scorer of important goals that made it possible for Ghana to conquer Africa in 1963 and 1965.”
Opoku Afriyie, who was the best centre forward, was described by Razak as a striker who, though diminutive, was so fast with the ball that defenders found it difficult to mark him.
Seeing him as a legend in goal-scoring, Razak noted that, “As a striker, Opoku was so sharp in the box that he could easily pounce on any chance to score from any angle.
It was such strikes that made it possible for him to score two stunning goals against Uganda to help Ghana win the AFCON tournament in 1978.”
However, Razak selected himself as a dream team member, emphasising that his stamina, dribbling skills, deft touches and goal-scoring prowess were extraordinary.
Describing himself as one of the few schemers who won the goal king award in the United Arab Emirates with 15 goals in 1981, Razak said it was such stunning goals that helped Ghana to win the AFCON title in 1978.
Finally, ‘The Maestro’ Abedi Ayew was Razak’s best choice for the left wing position as he regarded him as a true legend on the field.
“He (Abedi) was fast on the ball, could dribble his way through defenders, score from different angles, and was good in scoring goals with both legs and the head,” he asserted.