Having lost their Group G opening clash against USA early this week, Ghana desperately need victory against Germany tonight to stand a chance of progressing to the next round of the Fifa World Cup.
It is by no means a new phenomenon for brothers to play alongside each other at a Fifa World Cup, with Argentinians Mario and Juan Evaristo as well as Mexicans Manuel and Felipe Rosas and Rafael and Francisco Gutierrez all making the trip to the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay in 1930.
Over the years they have been followed by Fritz and Ottmar Walter, who propelled Germany to victory in Switzerland in 1954, Bobby and Jack Charlton, who won the competition with England in 1966, and Robert and Niko Kovac, who both represented Croatia at the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan tournament before taking on the role of national team coaches ahead of this summer’s showpiece in Brazil.
However, it is much more unusual for two brothers to play for different national teams. The Scottish siblings John and Archie Goodall rewrote the record books when they became the first brothers to don the colours of different countries.
Neither pulled on the navy blue jersey of Scotland, though, with John electing to represent England and Archie pledging his loyalty to Northern Ireland. Other examples include Massimiliano (Australia) and Christian Vieri (Italy) as well as Paul Pogba (France) and his two brothers Florentin and Mathias (Guinea). But none of the above have ever lined up on opposing sides at a World Cup finals.
Kevin-Prince and Jerome Boateng hit the headlines for this very reason when they faced each other on 23 June 2010 in South Africa. Jerome took to the field wearing the white of the German national team, while Kevin-Prince featured for the Black Stars. The match, which the European side won 1-0, marked another first in world football.
Second showdown in Brazil
History is set to repeat itself at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with Germany and Ghana locking horns once again when their Group G clash gets underway in Fortaleza tonight.
“I’m really looking forward to the match and the fact that both Boateng brothers will be on the same pitch,” said the 27-year-old Kevin-Prince. “Of course, it’s a special experience to face your own brother at the World Cup and it’s not the first time either.
There’s always a lot of excitement surrounding a World Cup, but this will be a particularly special moment for us both,” added Jerome.
The pair share the same father, who hails from Ghana, but have different mothers. They both grew up together in the German capital Berlin, where they progressed through the youth and amateur ranks at Hertha BSC.
And 25-year-old Jerome still has fond memories of those early years: “I will never forget when we played alongside each other at tournaments or when we became German champions together. And whenever one of us was fouled, the other would always come running in ready to protect him.”
The brothers both went their separate ways after their time in Berlin. Kevin-Prince, who normally sits in the hole behind the strikers but can also fill in at centre-forward, played for a range of clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan before making the move to the Bundesliga with Schalke 04. Jerome, who prefers to play in central defence but is equally at home on the right or left, enjoyed spells at Hamburg and Manchester City before Bayern Munich eventually came calling. Operating at the heart of defence, he helped the Bavarians to a treble in 2013.
Mixed feelings in the family
The pair, who have often locked horns at club level, are now set for their second showdown on the international stage. And with Kevin-Prince playing in attack and Jerome lining up in defence, it is more than likely that they will come up against each other directly. No wonder the fixture is a source of mixed feelings in the family.
Their father is adopting a neutral stance and has his fingers crossed for the pair of them, while both mothers are supporting their respective sons, as Jerome explains. However, the family motto remains “may the best team win, just as it was in South Africa”.
Kevin-Prince confirmed this and added: “Ultimately, it’s not important for our parents who wins. What counts for them is that we give our absolute best, remain injury-free and look back on our own personal performances with nothing but satisfaction.”