Andre Ayew and Thomas Teye Partey of Ghana, referee Victor Gomes, 2019 AfconBackpagepix

Partey, Ayews missing as Ghana name squad for South Africa, Sao Tome

Ghana’s Premier League and Championship contingent including Arsenal midfielder Thomas Teye Partey, Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew and Swansea City forward Andre Ayew have been left out of the Black Stars’ final squad for upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games against South Africa and Sao Tome e Principe.

Crystal Palace midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp, Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu, Leicester City defender Daniel Amartey, Reading right-back Andy Yiadom and Brentford attacker Tariqe Fosu have all been dropped, but League 2 midfielder Kwame Afriyie Poku, who plays for Colchester United has been called up for the first time.

A final squad of 29 players have been summoned for the March 25 away clash with Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg and a home encounter with Sao Tome in Accra three days later.

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The Premier League and Championship contingent have been left out of the new roster over reluctance of the clubs to release them for the trip to South Africa, a country on the United Kingdom’s red list of coronavirus risky countries.

A travel from such a country into the UK will require 10 days of mandatory hotel quarantine, a directive that will see the players miss a number of club matches on their return from international duty.

Amid speculations of Premier League/EFL-based players being exempted for the South Africa trip but be made available for the home game against Sao Tome, Swansea, on Thursday, interestingly announced an Ayew Ghana call-up, suggesting his imminent trip to Africa.

France-based duo Nicholas Opoku and Emmanuel Lomotey have been called up despite a unanimous decision on the part of French Ligue 1 and 2 clubs to reject all international call-ups for players from Africa.

Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori, who picked up an injury during a Caf Champions League clash with ES Setif of Algeria, has also been summoned.

Former Bayern Munich striker Kwasi Okyere Wriedt makes a return to the Black Stars for the first time since 2018 while there are maiden call-ups for Italy-born striker Emmanuel Gyasi, Gent winger Osman Bukari, Manchester loanee Kamal Sowah and 17-year-old Ghana second-tier league sensation Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, who won the Best Player award at the recent Africa U20 Cup of Nations tournament in Mauritania.

German-born Hamburg centre-back Stephen Ambrocius, who has been named in Germany’s squad for upcoming European U21 championship also features on the Ghana squad – his first ever call-up top the country of his parents.

Full Ghana squad:

Goalkeepers: Richard Ofori (Orlando Pirates – South Africa), Razak Abalora (Asante Kotoko - Ghana), Eric Ofori Antwi (Medeama SC - Ghana), Danlad Ibrahim (Asante Kotoko- Ghana)

Full Backs: Baba Abdul Rahman (PAOK – Greece), Gideon Mensah (Vitoria de Guimaraes – Portugal), Benson Annan (MLK Zilina – Slovakia), Philemon Baffuor (Dreams FC – Ghana)

Central Defenders: Nicholas Opoku (Amiens SC – France), Kasim Nuhu (1899 Hoffenheim – Germany), Ganiyu Ismael (Asante Kotoko – Ghana), Stephen Ambrosius (Hamburger SV – Germany)

Central Midfield: Kudus Mohammed (Ajax Amsterdam – Holland), Mubarak Wakaso (Jiangsu Suning F.C - China), Afriyie Acquah (Yeni Malatyaspor - Turkey), Emmanuel Lomotey (Amiens SC - France), Iddrisu Baba (RCD Mallorca – Spain), Gladson Awako (Great Olympics -Ghana), Kwame Afriyie Poku (Colchester United – England)

Left Attacking Midfield: Osman Bukari (Gent – Belgium), Joseph Esso (Dreams FC - Ghana)

Right Attacking Midfield: Kamal Sowah (OH Leuven - Belgium), Fatawu Issahaku (Steadfast FC – Ghana)

Attackers: Emmanuel Boateng (Dalian Professional - China), Emmanuel Gyasi (Spezia – Italy), Kwame Opoku (Asante Kotoko – Ghana), John Antwi (Pyramids FC – Egypt), Kwasi Okyere Wriedt (Willem II – Holland), Caleb Ekuban (Trabzonspor – Turkey)