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The Goal Lounge
|Which of the four debutants called up by coach Kwesi Appiah for the Sudan game boasts enough potential to impress for the Black Stars and go on to become a fixture in the team?|
STEPHEN AMOS| DEP. EDITOR FOOTY-GHANA
Frimpong from his early stage of football came in as a striker but lacked the qualities of the role he started in. After being scouted by Arsenal while schooling in Tottenham, the Ghanaian born to Mrs. Naa Yaa Frimpomaa in one of his early training sessions with the Arsenal youth coaches deliberated on the best role which suited him after admitting he was not cut out to be a striker. The coaches led by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger decided to let the rookie player try out at defensive midfield due to his ability in tackling.
The role of the No. 4 position begins for Frimpong.
In Ghana, we call the player who plays the defensive midfield role as the No. 6 but that’s way different in Europe especially in England. The No. 4 man rather does the covering for the back four. Frimpong has through his Arsenal Academy days excelled in this role with his finesse in cutting off attacks and ability to split passes from the rear to attack.
At the start of the 2011-12 EPL, Frimpong who per chance to Alex Song’s absence got into the starting line-up of the Wenger side but the young Gunner earned himself a bit of bad press with his hard tackling as he was returning from a knee ligament damage injury lay-off. He quickly ended up receiving the red card in an EPL game against Liverpool for a horrendous tackle on Lucas Leiva. That notwithstanding, he has since began to show maturity in his tackling as he excelled in a loan spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers though it was short-spelled by another knee injury.
He’s got the ability not only to win balls but surge forward also and to add to his skill is the knack to score free-kicks. He showed glimpses of that in his first call to the Ghana senior team in a training match against lower tier club Asokwa Deportivo in Kumasi.
The on-loan Fulham man’s 22-yard free-kick strike superbly went over the opposing side’s wall to creep under the bar. To show the earlier goal was no fluke, Frimpong took another sweet free-kick strike from a similar distance but at the other side of the post but this time, his kick was saved by the cross-bar. His knack for free-kick taking among his several defensive abilities gives him an edge in cementing a role in the current Black Stars team.
There are a few players both old and new who possess his qualities. The only factor which will delay Frimpong’s starting role in the current Black Stars set up will be his ability to settle down in the squad and his ability to attract fewer cards on big match days due to his hard tackling nature.
From his background, the Kwadaso-born needs little big game temperament and consistency to fulfill his much touted potential.
NANA FRIMPONG | GOAL.COM GHANA
*Mahatma Otoo has been, for a while now, one of domestic Ghanaian football's more consistent strikers and his performances have long merited the call-up to the Black Stars he has only just received.
Somehow, though, I'm inclined to believe it wouldn't be his last, and that Otoo would be in line for several more, such is the young man's potential.
Otoo's ability to play as a targetman is enhanced by his well-stocked skillset which includes his impressive dribbling and finishing strengths. As well as having a great first touch, the 2008-2009 Ghana Premier League player of the year (an honour he collected while only aged 17) can shoot well from range, too, all qualities that make him the candidate best-equipped to give the often frustrating Asamoah Gyan some fierce competition for the No.9's job at present.
Otoo -unlike the other debutants called up - has had the advantage of going through every phase of Ghana's tiered national team system, having played for the U17s, U20s and U23s, and enjoying leadership roles at each stage. In the latter capacity, he excelled at the 2011 All-Africa Games, flourishing under the tutelage of current Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah (trainer of the Black Meteors at the time) and helping the team win gold and claiming, on a personal level, the topscorer award with four goals in as many games. Mahatma - namesake of the great Indian nationalist, Gandhi- is presently on the radar of a number of elite European clubs, not least England's Sunderland and Olympique Lyon of France. Still, while he remains active on the local scene -where he features as a sine qua non for Ghanaian giants Accra Hearts of Oak and has chalked 10 league goals this term - he would prove an invaluable asset for coach Appiah, who has thus far expressed a particular affinity for quality Ghana-based players. Put simply, Otoo is one for the future, without doubt, and is perhaps in better stead to evolve into a Ghana regular than any of the three alongside whom he'd likely be making his international bow against Sudan come Sunday's Brazil 2014 qualifier in Kumasi.
*Contrary to popular belief, Mahatma Otoo has earned one Ghana cap already, coming in the 2-0 loss suffered to a half-strength Argentina in Buenos Aires in September 2009 albeit a second string version of the national side.
FIIFI ANAMAN | GOAL.COM GHANA
David “Titi”Accam is a gem whose qualities will be lethal assets for any team. Accam oozes incredible power, intelligence and skill as well as an explosive commitment to creating goal scoring opportunities. Besides, he doesn't mind putting some away himself - an added bonus which he proved against Gefle in the Svenska Cupen on Sunday – days after his call-up - scoring a brace. Accam is a player in the Cristiano Ronaldo mould, possessing blistering speed and an ability to zoom past defenders with immense flair and effortless grace.
At 22, the Helsinborg winger might have been called up too late for a player that talented, but the time spent outside national team action has been one of massive learning and improvement. He has worked hard over the last few years, graduating from the elite Right to Dream academy in 2008, earning himself a chance to further his education at Hartbury College in England. A brief stint with Southern league side Evesham United was followed by a dream participation in "The Challenge" (a global search for undiscovered young football talents organised by Nike) where his conspicuous talent earned him a spot to join the prestigious Nike Academy for a year. Fresh out of the academy, where he got the chance to learn from top-level coaches, Accam signed for Swedish third tier Ostersunds FK, after which Helsingborg paid two million Swedish Krona for him – a record fee for a third tier player.
Accam, who was again loaned back to Ostersund, scored nine goals in 14 appearances there. He was recalled by coach Åge Hareide for Helsingborg’s crunch Champions League play off game vs Celtic last August – a testament of his quality and importance. Even though they failed to qualify, he has since scored five goals in 13 appearances for Helsingborg.
JOSHUA ANSAH | GOAL.COM GHANA
Baba Abdul Rahman’s call-up to the national team may have come as a surprise to some, but fans of the Ghanaian Premier League and Kumasi Asante Kotoko will not need any explanations. Rahman had tongues all over the country wagging last year as he contributed significantly to the Porcupine Warriors' successful league campaign and was arguably the league’s best left-back, before he joined newly-promoted Bundesliga side Greuther Furth.
The plaudits are endless, from being described as the best natural left-back Ghana have seen in 30 years to one of the brightest talents in the Bundesliga, Baba has capitalised on an injury to his team’s first choice left-back at the turn of the year, to prove his ‘unquestionable’ capabilities, as stated by former Black Stars and Greuter Furth player Nii Odartey Lamptey. Rahman is the club’s second best player so far this season according to ratings from whoscored.com. In 12 games (10 starts) Rahman has managed 41 tackles committing 10 fouls in the process.
He has managed 25 interceptions, 16 clearances and five blocks and has been beaten by an opponent 13 times. Going forward he’s managed to beat his man 11 times, helped the attack with five key passes and win a free kick on 16 occasions. With his rather ‘unquestionable’ capabilities and his ability to moderate his runs in order to contribute both defensively and offensively, it will very much be expected that Rahman would edge ahead of Kissi-Boateng, if Afful plays at right-back and could put in the sort of performance that will settle Ghana’s left back conundrum once and for all. The teenager has refused to accept any mandate as the answer to Ghana’s left-back problems, instead vowing to offer his ‘best’ to move the team forward. The lady doth protest too much methinks.
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