Football has witnessed a transformative shift in certain positions in recent years as is evident in the ever-evolving role and responsibilities of full-backs, who are now expected to actively contribute across all phases of the game, demanding peak physical fitness at the highest level. Strikers, too, have seen a change, moving away from the archetypal and more traditional poacher to more rounded players who can contribute to the progression of the ball through the thirds.
But more significant evolutions over past few decades have occurred in the goalkeeper position. The goalkeepers we commend today are proactive, adept at reading the game, and skilled with the ball at their feet, which signals the shift towards goalkeeping as an all-encompassing role, crucial in both traditional and more contemporary aspects of the game. While shot-stopping and reflexes remain as vital as ever, new dynamics such as distribution, aggressive positioning, and enhanced athleticism now take precedence.
In the Ghanaian Premier League, these tactical tweaks and shifts in positional roles are just as discernible as they are in any other league. And nobody quite embodies the quintessential ‘modern goalkeeper’ role like Asante Kotoko’s Frederick Asare.
Ghana’s Next Breakout Star?
Currently plying his trade in the Ghana Premier League, 24-year-old Asare began his professional journey – much like Mohammed Kudus and Majeed Ashimeru – through the ranks of WAFA (West African Football Academy) before making the switch to Accra Lions.
During his six years at Accra Lions, Asare’s stellar performances earned him recognition, leading to his first call-up to the Black Satellites. He played a pivotal role in the squad’s run in the 2019 WAFU under-20 tournament as well as the African Youth Championship in Niger 2019 and the 2019 African Games in Morocco.
With an exemplary stint at Accra Lions under his belt, Asare made the significant move to Asante Kotoko at the start of the 2022-23 season, securing a free transfer and signing a three-year deal.
This transfer was fuelled by Asare’s exceptional performances in the Ghana Premier League with his former club. At just 24 years old, he swiftly became a pivotal player for the Porcupine Warriors, stepping into the shoes of their first-choice goalkeeper, Ibrahim Danland, who was frequently away on international duty.
Where Asare Really Excels
Asare irrefutably stands out for his commanding and fearless approach as a goalkeeper, but he is also just as widely renowned for his agility, impeccable positional awareness, and adept game-reading skills.
As a distributor, Asare excels, demonstrating a remarkable ability to accurately bypass a press and seamlessly transition from defence to attack. Whether under heavy pressure or not, his proficiency extends to both short and long distances where he can launch attacks for his team with his excellent distribution skills.
In his maiden campaign with Asante Kotoko, the goalkeeper made a notable impact, securing seven clean sheets in just 21 matches. This achievement is particularly commendable for a young talent representing a prominent club like Asante Kotoko. As a testament to his outstanding performance, Asare clinched the KSGPLA Goalkeeper of the Season award, presented by Kessben Sports, the Ghanaian PL national broadcaster.
Asare humbly acknowledged the significance of the accolade, stating, “I would like to use this opportunity to show my appreciation and gratitude to Kessben TV for this award as the best goalkeeper for the first edition of the Kessben Sports Premier League Player Awards. I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.”
Next Steps on Asare’s Ascent
Crucially, the 24-year-old is continuing to fare well this season – even as Asante Kotoko are faltering in their title bid – with six clean sheets in nine matches in the first half of the season.
While his side are only third in the league, Asare has shown strength in the media, asserting that the squad are not happy with their position. “I don’t think it’s a good position for us. Kotoko is a big club, and finishing third in the first round is unsatisfactory,” he stated recently.
His remarkable agility, confidence, shot-stopping abilities, adept footwork, and his rapid responses in one-on-one situations further contribute to an outstanding repertoire.
Due to this, Asare is acknowledged in Ghana as a spectacular, well-rounded, and athletic goalkeeper but likely in need of a move to safeguard his development. In an interview featured on his club’s official YouTube channel “Growing up, I looked up to Razak Abalora. Because he was my senior at WAFA. I took him as my idol. He’s one of the best,” he said.
Abalora spent 2 seasons at Asante Kotoko, having joined in October 2020 before making the move to Moldovan champions, Sheriff Tiraspol. It is hard to imagine that, considering his appreciation for Abalora, he won’t be looking to take a similar route. Sheriff are now regularly playing in Europe competitions and with any luck, we may be seeing Frederick Asante fulfilling his potential in a European league very soon.
By: Alfred Amoah / @Laka993
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Asante Kotoke