Former Fulham and West Ham United right-back John Paintsil has urged Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu to avail himself for national duty ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, and believes past situations of the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng with the Black Stars may be keeping the centre-back away.
Salisu has been a solid performer for Southampton in the Premier League this season, having featured in all 10 games played thus far, starting in all but one.
While his stock continues to rise at club level, his international career is yet to take off as he has made himself unavailable for selection to the Black Stars, saying he is not yet ready for international football.
“Playing for your country is the best thing that will ever happen to any player because it’s something that will put you on the map for people to see, and your respect will rise high and a lot of clubs will even start chasing you when they see you play at the World Cup and Africa Cup,” Paintsil, who represented Ghana at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, told Goal.
“What I am thinking is that he’s probably looking at some of the players like Kevin-Prince Boateng who came to play for Ghana and at the end the boy was struggling with the media, being dropped from the World Cup, fighting, all these things – players look at all these before joining the national team.
“So I think he maybe needs time, and as an ex-player, I’ll advise that playing for Ghana will help him a lot and boost him higher for a lot of clubs to see him. Sometimes you don’t look at what is happening to somebody and make a decision on that.
“For me, Ghana Black Stars is the best place for every player in the world. So I’ll advise that whatever is keeping him away should be respected but I would say he should speed up and play for his country.”
On Thursday, Ghana coach Milovan named a 28-man squad for their upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifying matches against Ethiopia and South Africa, with Salisu's name once again absent.
At the press conference, the coach revealed plans to take a trip to Europe to engage some players who have made themselves unavailable to the Black Stars, mentioning Club Brugge’s Kamal Sowah as an example.
“Now it’s up to the coach to build a good relationship with him because, at the end of the day, he’s going to play for his country but also play for the coach,” Paintsil, who played together with Boateng at the 2010 World Cup, added.
“The coaches want to build a solid team that can compete with any country, so he will be a top material for us going forward, especially this Afcon that we call it a must-win and people believe the cup is definitely coming home. So if the coach can convince him and assure him that he’s going to be there for him.
“Let’s leave the talks more for the coach to do, visit him, talk to him one-on-one, if the coach really needs him. I hope our big men at the GFA, the Management Committee together with the coach will try and convince him so he can join the team.”
The next Afcon tournament takes place in January and February 2022.