With the Nations Cup less than six weeks away, Goal Africa correspondent Ed Dove looks inside Kwesi Appiah’s mind to assess the likely makeup of the Black Stars squad come January
Dead Certain - Adam Kwarasey - Ghana’s number 1: It’s hard to look too far beyond the Stromgodset man – an impressive Afcon could put a number of top European clubs on alert.
Probable - Fatau Dauda - The AshantiGold stopper has experience of the Cup of Nations, having travelled to the 2008 edition. After a competent performance against Cape Verde, he is likely to be included again this time around.
Possible - Ernest Sowah, Daniel Adjei - An early regular in Appiah’s squads, Sowah has not been selected since the first leg against Malawi, whilst a recent recall for Liberty Professionals youngster Daniel Adjei suggests he may well be back in the boss’ plans.
Unlikely - Philemon McCarthy
Dead Certain - Isaac Vorsah, John Boye, Harrison Afful - Appiah has some big decisions to make in defence, with many talented options. Three men who can be confident of their plane tickets are centre-back partnership Isaac Vorsah and John Boye, as well as left back of choice, Harrison Afful. Whilst Vorsah’s fitness is a potential headache for Ghana selectors, news is rife that the centre-back has recovered from his recent injury woes, it is imperative that he travels.
Probables - Lee Addy, Jerry Akaminko, Jonathan Mensah, Sam Inkoom, John Mensah - Competition for defensive places is fierce, with several players optimistic of featuring, despite not currently being signed to a club, John Mensah is a comfortable bet to make the squad after being handed the ‘general captaincy’ role.
Inkoom appears favourite to take the right back spot, whilst Jonathan, Lee Addy, and in-form Jerry
"A favourite of Goran Stevanovic, Alhassan featured at the last Afcon. Unfortunately, the youngster has been ignored ever since"
Possibles - John Paintsil, David Addy, Daniel Opare, Richard Boateng, Razak Nuhu - Portuguese-based David Addy has been welcomed back into the fold in recent times, and despite not yet realising the great promise he showed as a youngster, could one day be a serious option at left back. Opare’s versatility will be tempting for the coach, whilst John Paintsil offers experience, and will surely be hopeful after being recalled for the last two squads.
Boateng and Nuhu are youthful prospects that have integrated well into the squad under Appiah.
Unlikely - Nana Asare, Masahudu Alhassan, Mohamed Awal, Rashid Sumaila - After having been overlooked previously, Nana Asare was another to be recalled for the recent friendly against Cape Verde. Despite a solid performance against the islanders, it’s hard to imagine the Utrecht man forcing himself into the squad ahead of some of the aforementioned. A favourite of Goran Stevanovic, Alhassan featured at the last Afcon. Unfortunately, the youngster has been ignored ever since, and Appiah looks unlikely to recall him anytime soon.
Dead Certain - Anthony Annan, Kwadwo Asamoah, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu - This quadrant of midfield masters are the heart and soul of the Black Stars, and it would be almost impossible to envisage a successful Afcon campaign without their tenacity, touch, and talent. Any of the four could emerge as the tournament’s standout star.
Probables - Derek Boateng, Solomon Asante - Having been dropped unceremoniously from Ghana’s
"Frimpong's focus in January is likely to be a Championship campaign on loan with Charlton, rather than Black Stars progress in South Africa."
Possibles - Alfriyie Acquah, Albert Adomah, Sulley Muntari, Mubarak Wakaso, Eddie Gyimah, Isaac Coffie, Laryea Kingston, Mohammed Rabiu - With a number of midfield spots still up for grabs, several players are in with a shot at selection – many of whom offer the coach something different. Sulley Muntari brings experience and a big game temperament, and should travel if he can overcome his recent injury-ravaged months. One of the most intriguing candidates is Laryea Kingston. Once a national team regular, the midfielder’s stock has fallen following a disappointing time in Europe. Revitalised at Hearts of Oak, the veteran may well be capable of adding an extra dimension to the Black Stars.
Unlikely - Emmanuel Frimpong, Jebrin Torric, Frank Acheampong, Fred Duncan, Mohammed Abu - Acheampong made his Black Stars debut against China in August’s friendly, but has been overlooked ever since. At only 19 years of age, his time will come, but I imagine this Afcon will be a year or two too soon. Internazionale’s Fred Duncan is another who is likely to be kept waiting to make his Afcon impact – a debutant against Cape Verde, the Accra-born midfielder gave a competent display, but faces stiff competition for a place.
Emmanuel Frimpong’s rehabilitation continues following last season’s horrific knee injury. Recent displays in Arsenal cup ties have been promising, but this is a young midfielder trying to find his way back into the game, and despite recently receiving clearance to compete for the national side, his focus in January is likely to be a Championship campaign on loan with Charlton, rather than Black Stars progress in South Africa.
Dead Certain - Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Asamoah Gyan - Reintegrated into the Black Stars fold, the Black Stars captain Asamoah Gyan will be Ghana’s main frontman at the Afcon. Keen to exorcise the nightmarish campaign he endured last time around, and keen to win round Black Stars fans who doubted him, look for Baby Jet to make a big impact. Despite Appiah’s insistence that no one has a guaranteed spot in his final 23, it seems absurd to imagine the omission of the Ayew brothers, both of whom will be looking to cement themselves as true superstars on the continental stage.
Probables - Emmanuel Clottey, Richmond Boakye, Waris Majeed - Youngster Majeed is yet to find the net
"Majeed is yet to find the net for the Black Stars, yet Appiah clearly sees something in the Tamale-born frontman. "
Possibles - Dominic Adiyiah - Once the darling of Ghanaian football, Adiyiah’s fall from grace has been hugely disappointing for national selectors. The former Milan man has struggled to make a convincing case for his inclusion after initially being invited back into the action by the new boss.
Unlikely – Quincy Owusu Abeyie, Prince Tagoe, Richard Mpong - Mpong has failed to hold down a squad place with the Black Stars, and an Afcon call up looks beyond him. Quincy and Tagoe have never had the chance to prove their capabilities under Appiah, and despite having scored previously for the Black Stars, they are unlikely to be called upon.
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