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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Former Ghana U23 coach Jabir advises Akonnor amid Black Stars call-up controversy 

18:13 GMT 22/03/2021
Malik Jabir
The ex-Asante Kotoko coach shares his thoughts on the speculated interference in player selection of the national team

Former Ghana U23 boss Abdul Malik Jabir has urged Black Stars coach CK Akonnor to stand his ground amid reports of interference in his national team job, particularly player selection.

Since the Ghana Football Association announced a 29-man squad for an upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against South Africa and Sao Tome, Akonnor has been heavily criticised for some of his choices, particularly, Colchester United attacker Kwame Afriyie Poku, who plays club football in the fourth tier of English football.

Media reports, however, claim Akonnor has denied calling up the midfielder, suggesting the announced list may have been altered by FA officials.

"When you are appointed as the coach, you must act like one," Jabir, also a former Asante Kotoko coach, told Kumasi FM.

"He must take players that he thinks can help his course and drop those who cannot help achieve his target.

"If the Football Association wants to sack him for being firm on his decisions, then so be it."

While GFA communications director Henry Asante Twum revealed Poku, following the outcry, has been dropped from the Afcon qualifying squad and will instead join the Ghana B side for a friendly fixture with Uzbekistan, latest reports say the football governing body has made a U-turn on the 19-year-old who will now link up with the Afcon qualifying squad as originally planned.

"I recall during my time as the head coach of the Black Meteors, a management member at that time brought in three players and offered me $3000 (2,511.40 Euro) for me to take them into the team but I rejected the money and asked for an assessment of those players," Jabir revealed.

"I remember after the assessment the players were not fit enough for the team and were therefore dropped.

"CK Akonnor must be strong mentally and act as a coach to avoid influence from other people in order to achieve his goal."

Ghana’s squad also includes Germany-born Hamburg centre-back Stephan Ambrosius who has also been coincidentally called up by his country of birth for the upcoming European U21 championship.

Latest reports indicate the defender has rejected Ghana's invitation in favour of the European nation.