Black Stars coach Kwasi Appiah has named his 21-man squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations qualifier away to Kenya on September 8, 2018. The squad includes a mixture of some old guns and relatively unknown names.
But given the recent turmoil in the domestic football space, many have raised questions about whether this team can succeed and probably win back public support.
Here the B&FT run through four talking points from Kwasi Appiah’s squad announcement;
Thomas Teye Partey with 7 goals in 17 appearances is one of the senior members of this squad. At 25 years, that is the reality for the Atletico Madrid defensive midfielder, who is also likely to captain the side for the trip to Nairobi. His 17 caps are bettered only by the returning Kwadwo Asamoah (69) who hasn’t played for the team in four years, John Boye (60), Afriyie Acquah (29), Christian Atsu (42), Frank Acheampong (20), Majeed Waris (22) and Harrison Afful (76).
Ten players have fewer than 10 caps, while one – William Owusu – is awaiting his first. With the likes of Kwadwo Asamoah, John Boye, Majeed Warris having been out of the team for some time, don’t be surprised if Partey pulls on the armband.
Where are the goals coming from?
With a lack of collective appearances inevitably comes a lack of goals. Majeed Waris and Raphael Dwamena will be Ghana’s top marksmen for this encounter, both have a combined tally of six goals – Dwamena two in three games and Waris 4 in 22.
But that is not the problem. Although the new European season just started and it is too early to judge, the two had very disappointing spells for club last season. Dwamena who now plays for Levante in Spain, scored only nine goals in all competitions for FC Zurich last season in the Swiss league. Waris even had a more appalling campaign, finding the back of the net only once in the whole of the 2017/2018 season.
Surprisingly, Partey, who has been largely used as a defensive midfielder at club level, is expected to play as one of the attackers in the game against Kenya, according to the coach. This decision alone opens up a debate on its own, coupled with the omission of Jordan Ayew and whether selections are based on merit, will continue to be an issue of public discussion.
And where is the midfield?
Partey has been the engine of the midfield in the Black Stars most recent games. So, it will be interesting to see how the coach line ups his team in the middle of the pitch without the Atletico Madrid man.
So who are midfielders? Only Kwadwo Asamoah, Afriyie Acquah, Ebenezer Ofori and Isaac Sackey could be expected to hold fort in the middle. These players have not played together in a while, so it will be interesting to see how they control play from that part of the pitch. If any of these players pick up an injury, there is going to be gaping hole in the middle.
The rest of the midfield players play out wide on the wings.
The goalkeepers have fewer than 7 caps between them
Fatau Dauda and Razak Barimah are both out of the squad and for an away game on the continent, things could get murkier.
The two goalkeepers called up – Richard Ofori and Lawrence Ati-Zigi have a combined caps of five between them – four for Ofori and one for Ati-Zigi.
At times experience is not everything, but is the coach really comfortable heading into a major game when his expected starting goalkeeper, Ofori, has just four caps?
The other issue is that there was an option for a third goalkeeper, so even Dauda is deemed not to be on top form at the moment, which is obviously not the case, the coach could have still included him because of his experience. With his experience, Dauda could view things from another angle.
It is no news. Expectation has gone. But there is an almost defeatist theme that has taken over – this is a young squad, do not expect too much, Ghana do not have the players and the current atmosphere is toxic, so qualifying will be an achievement in itself.
Below is the full Black Stars squad;
Goagkeepers: Lawrence Ati Zigi (Sochaux, France), Richard Ofori (Maritzburg United, South Africa)
Defenders: Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew, USA) Daniel Opare (Royal Antwerp, Belgium) Kasim Nuhu Adams (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany) John Boye (FC Metz, France), Daniel Amartey (Leicester City, England), Andy Yiadom (Reading Football Club, England), Nicholas Opoku (Udinese, Italy)
Midfielders: Afriyie Acquah (Empoli, Italy), Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Ebenezer Ofori (New York City FC, USA), Christian Atsu (Newcastle United, England), Edwin Gyasi (CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria) Kwadwo Asamoah (Inter Milan, Italy), Frank Acheampong (Tianjin Teda, China), Nana Ampomah (Waasland-Beveren, Belgium)
Forwards: Raphael Dwamena (Levante UD, Spain), Thomas Partey (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Majeed Waris (FC Nantes, France), William Owusu (Royal Antwerp, Belgium).