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Stephen Appiah: Legendary Ghana captain responds to player call-up interference claims

20:05 BST 26/05/2021
Stephen Appiah
The former Juventus midfielder talks about speculations of players being forced onto Black Stars coach CK Akonnor

Former Ghana skipper Stephen Appiah has stated he is unable to confirm nor deny claims of interference in the West Africans' current nationality administration but says there was never any such cases during his era.

Appiah's comments follow recent controversy surrounding player selection for the Black Stars.

Ghana coach CK Akonnor has reportedly been forced to hand call-ups to some players on orders of top FA officials, a claim both he and the football governing body have rejected.

"Luckily in my time I never experienced that [interference in player call-ups]. The coaches called players based on form,” Appiah told TV3 .

“If you are playing well of course you would get a call-up.

"We have to know that even if the best players are called up, there will still be people that will be pointing out that certain players should be called up.

“I have never experienced the interference and now that I am away from this team, I don’t know what is going on there."

In March, Akonnor and the FA were caught up in a controversy following the announcement of Ghana's squad for Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.

The coach received a lot of stick for calling up attacker Kwame Opoku Afriyie who plays club football for English fourth tier side Colchester United.

The coach was, however, reportedly unhappy by the bad press as he was said to have had no hand in the inclusion of the youngster in the squad.

“Call-ups for all national teams go through processes, and people must understand this,” Ghana FA boss Kurt Okraku recently said in response to the accusations .

“Gone are the days when one person will wake up one day and name a national team, it will never happen again.

“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."

The call-up of Dreams FC right-back Philemon Baffour and Amiens midfielder Emmanuel Lomotey has also raised questions.

“This is a system that is practised everywhere in the world. There is no country where one single individual names a squad," Okraku added.

“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.”

Appiah is famously remembered for spearheading Ghana’s first qualification for the World Cup in 2006 and their subsequent run to the Round of 16 of the championship held in Germany.

He also played at the 2010 World Cup and held the role as technical coordinator between 2017 and 2019 following his retirement from active football.