By Joshua Ansah
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah has made some bold choices as he embarks on a mission to end a 31-year-old trophy drought. The former national team captain would be looking for a really huge response from the players who made it into his provisional squad.
“I’ll expect each and every player selected to give their utmost best,” the 52-year-old said after announcing the squad but what can Ghanaians really expect from his troops.
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In defence, Appiah’s team looks fairly solid with a good number of young players and while experience may not be overflowing at the back the likes of John Paintsil should be able to pull the back together and comfortably protect Adam Kwarasey’s goalpost as the Stromgodset stopper will be expected to man the posts for the Black Stars again ahead of compatriots Fatau Dauda and Daniel Adjei.
Isaac Vorsah and John Boye will be expected to continue a defensive partnership that started in the last Afcon and if the former can repeat his feats of that tournament then the backline should have no problems. Rashid Sumaila, Jonathan Mensah, Jerry Akaminko and Awal Mohammed may all be called upon to provide cover, but it looks unlikely that all four will make the final squad list. The full-back slots have been problematic for the Black Stars in recent times and the mantle will fall on Harrison Afful, John Paintsil, Mubarak Wakaso and Richard Kissi-Boateng to fill up the slots with Wakaso looking good for a place in the final squad due to his versatility and his recent performances. The squad though may still miss the presence of general captain John Mensah.
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Anthony Annan and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu will be expected to provide steel in defensive midfield while the efficient Derek Boateng’s inclusion has raised eyebrows due to his reduced role at club level though the midfielder has shown he can be counted on to perform at the highest level. It looks, however, that he will be contesting for a place in the final squad with youngster Rabiu Mohammed who will be looking for another showing like the one he gave for the World Cup winning Under-20 side in 2009 if he gets a chance.
The team’s creative duties will be entrusted in the hands of Juventus’ Kwadwo Asamoah, Solomon Asante of Berekum Chelsea, Bristol City’s Albert Adomah, Christian Atsu of FC Porto and Olympique Marseille’s Andre Ayew, though it is also unlikely that all five may make the final squad. Asamoah and Ayew’s performances over the years mean they are almost shoo-ins for the final squad while Atsu’s eye-catching output since his debut against Lesotho earlier this year also seem to give him a pass. One of Adomah and Asante will most likely battle for a place in the final squad though it is still possible that both players too will make the squad. Both have shown promise when given a chance in the national team but neither has really made their mark, but keep an eye on them as both have the abilities to set the tournament alight.
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Upfront, however, there are a lot of talking points considering three of the four forwards named are inexperienced at international level. The four-time Africa champions look light upfront and despite a lot of exploits in the Caf Champions League with Berekum Chelsea, Emmanuel Clottey, has failed to really show his best at national level but seems to have shown enough to convince Appiah unlike the recently crowned goal king of the just-ended Swedish Allvenskan Abdul Majeed Warris whose equally unconvincing performances have seen him axed from the squad.
Also missing is Olympique Marseille’s player of the month of November, Jordan Ayew, whose position has been taken over by Ghanaian Premier League sensation Yahaya Mohammed. The midfielder’s call-up as part of the forwards is also a situation that raises eyebrows though it remains to be seen whether the Amidaus Professionals star can cope with a position higher up the pitch.
Youngster Richmond Boakye-Yiadom also made it into the squad while captain Asamoah Gyan completes the forward line. The striker looks set to once again single handedly lead the line for the Stars and will be looking to add to his overall tally of five Africa Cup of Nations goals though it is not yet whether any of the back-up players can comfortably fill in for him in the case of any eventualities.
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