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Former Ghana FA vice-president Afriyie criticises current administration for impacting Black Stars call-ups

17:50 BST 23/04/2021
Kotoko coach CK Akonnor
The football governing body has been advised to give CK Akonnor a free hand as head coach of the Black Stars

Former Ghana Football Association vice-president George Afriyie has called on the current leadership to desist from influencing call-ups to the Black Stars.

Player selection into the national set-up has become a major topic of discussion after a controversy broke following the announcement of a 29-man squad for last month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.

The call-up of Colchester United attacker Kwame Afriyie Poku, who plays in the English fourth division, generated the most questions.

“[Ghana head coach] CK Akonnor must have his peace of mind to work. We should take away favouritism [in player call-ups] - ‘This one belongs here so we’ll not call him, that one belongs here so don’t call him’. This will not help the Black Stars,” Afriyie, who worked at the FA during the Kwesi Nyantaki regime, told JoySports.

“These are some of the reasons why people will call for a white man to coach the Black Stars, but since we have opted to go for one our own [Akonnor] to coach the Black Stars, let us leave him to work. 

“Let’s give him all the needed support for him to work. That is all I’m calling for. If he fails, we will all see that he has failed.

“One of the things I can boast of is that during my time with Kwesi Nyantakyi we never interfered with national team call ups. We believed that the coaches were capable and competent so we should allow them to do their work.”

After the announcement of the last call-up, Aknonnor, having come under fire, reportedly distanced himself from the invitation to some of the players on the list, a move which, according to media speculation, drew the displeasure of GFA officials.

GFA president Kurt Okraku has, however, come out to reject all the sack and interference speculation but admitted the Black Stars Management Committee does play some part in the squad selections.

“Call-ups for all national teams go through processes, and people must understand this. Gone are the days when one person will wake up one day and name a national team, it will never happen again,” Okraku explained.

“The coach and his team will work with the technical directorate to select a squad, then they have to convince the Management Committee about the squad they have selected. Then there is a meeting – some I may attend, others I may select someone to represent me.

When there is a consensus, the squad is then announced. This is a system that is practised everywhere in the world. There is no country where one single individual names a squad.

“I have not heard CK Akonnor speak about someone imposing players on him, and I doubt he’d ever say that because nobody imposes players on Charles Akonnor.”

Afriyie was an opponent of Okraku in the GFA presidential elections in 2019.