Akonnor explains ambition for October friendly against Mali

Alexander Djiku Bastia
The Black Stars coach looks ahead to next month’s test match against the Eagles

Ghana coach CK Akonnor believes Mali will provide a good test for his side in October’s friendly fixture ahead of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Sudan in November.

The Black Stars are set to face the Eagles in Turkey on October 9 in what will be his first match since assuming duty in January.

“Mali is a strong side, we have seen a couple of matches that they played in the Afcon, a very strong force and it is a very good test for us,” Akonnor said, as reported by the Ghana Football Association’s official website.

“We want to go there and try as much as possible to do our best and of course win that match.”

On Friday, Akonnor unveiled a list of 23 players for the upcoming fixture, calling up 26-year-old France-born defender Alexander Djiku who plays for Strasbourg.

“I am personally excited about him because at a point in time, we were not sure if he really wanted to come. He didn’t have a problem switching nationality but the decision to come to play. Now he has decided to come and so am very much excited about it,” Akonnor said.

“He does bring a lot of competition to the game. He is not only a centre-back but he can as well play a holding role, depending on what area you want to go in terms of when you go on away matches.

“If you want to be more defensive, he is a choice and he brings a lot of experience. I saw him in Strasbourg when I went to watch him play, he was really good and so am personally happy he is coming.”

Akonnor also explained the return of Besiktas midfielder Bernard Mensah, who makes a return to the national fold for the first time since 2015.

“After he came to play, we didn’t see much of him but now he is proving himself good," Akonnor added.

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“He was once with a club and moved to Besiktas which tells all the story about him and I have seen him on several occasions and watched him closely.

“He is one of the guys when given the necessary chance and confidence can bring change into the way we move forward. His style of play and the way he controls the game, I personally want to control the game in terms of possession and him, Partey and the rest are there to do that job and it is a big chance for him to come, play,do well and stay and not to go and come again.”

October’s friendly will be Akonnor’s first game in charge of the Black Stars.