By Evans Gyamera-Antwi
Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah is set to name his provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup on Monday as the country begins adequate preparations for June's trip to Brazil.
Goal takes a look at five home-based footballers - comprising two goalkeepers, as many defenders, and a striker - who have excelled with their respective clubs this season and thus deserve a place in Ghana's yet-to-be-announced World Cup roster.
STEPHEN ADAMS - Aduana Stars
The Dormaa-Ahenkro based side's first-choice goalkeeper is a sure bet to earn inclusion in the 30-man provisional squad. Although the 'Ogya Boys' are second from bottom on the table and staring relegation in the face, their 29-year-old keeper has been outstanding with his reflexes and pinpoint interventions.
He almost single-handedly won the 2014 CHAN tournament for Ghana after saving some decisive penalty kicks in the shootout against Libya in the final. In addition, Adam's calmness in goal along with his excellent judgment make him a prospect worth considering for Appiah. He might have missed out on selection for the last World Cup in South Africa at the eleventh hour but nothing -bar injury, perhaps- can hinder him this time.
AUGUSTINE OKRAH – Bechem United
Touted as domestic Ghanaian football's Lionel Messi, the 20-year-old Bechem United striker is yet to be capped by Ghana at any level. Okrah, who started at Feyenoord Academy, got his big break not too long ago with local giants Asante Kotoko but failed to meet the club's lofty expectations and fell down the pecking order.
After a loan spell at Liberty Professionals last season, he was transferred to Bechem United as a free agent where he has become a sine qua non. Okrah scored three goals in the first round of the current league season but has had his eye for goal immensely sharpened, having netted nine times in as many matches in the second round under new coach Tom Strand to claim the lead in the top-flight's scoring charts. He is fast and has a wonderful left foot which can send in many an explosive shot from afar. With 16 goals in all competitions, Okrah, a good dribbler who can play as a right winger and also as a second striker, could prove an inspired choice for Ghana at the World Cup.
GEORGE OWU – Hasaacas
With nine senior national caps already under his belt, Owu is regarded as one of the most experienced goalkeepers currently featuring in the local league. The 31-year-old is hardly off his peak and has helped Yusif Basigi's Sekondi Hasaacas move into the top four places on the log despite a poor start to the season.
After a three-year stint outside Ghana with Egyptian Premier League side El-Masry, the veteran shot-stopper returned home and has blossomed with 'Hasmal' and, with the Black Stars' regular goalkeepers Fatau Dauda and Adam Kwarasey struggling with their own peculiar challenges, Owu could come in handy. Owu, to his credit, has prior World Cup experience (albeit as an unused substitute), being a member of the side that represented Ghana at its maiden Mundial appearance back in 2006.
ABEIKU AINOOSON – Asante Kotoko
The 23-year-old Kotoko defender has been a revelation in his debut season with the Reds after joining from regional rivals New Edubiase. If Kotoko are so close to securing a 23rd league title this season, Ainooson is one good reason. Coupled with his versatility, the youngster is very quick and also good in the air. No Ghanaian defender - local- or foreign-based - can play both as a centre-back and a right full-back with as much ease as Ainooson does, and his exploits at this year's CHAN tournament certainly makes a case for him.
NURU SULLEY - Hearts of Oak
The former Olympics defender has developed into a finer student of the game as he continues to ply his trade with Hearts of Oak. At age 22, Sulley is young and energetic, quick and tall, and is also a good reader of the game. Sulley is an epitome of greatness at the rear and, with Isaac Vorsah battling injuries and John Mensah still not finding his feet yet ahead of the World Cup, coach Appiah could find a ready-made alternative of significantly lesser profile in the budding Phobian asset.
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