By Akyereko Frimpong Manson
Follow Akyereko on Twitter: @ AkyerekOfficial
Avram Grant supervised his first Ghana training session on Wednesday in preparation for the 2015 AFCON tournament with 16 players on attendance GHANAsoccernet.com looks at the best X who should have been training at the Lizzy’s Sports Complex with the team.
John Antwi’s omission from the 2015 AFCON squad and the inclusion of Kwesi Appiah send signs of surprise and disappointment to many Ghana fans.
JOHN ANTWI – Ismaily 7/10
The 21-year-old’s form in the Egyptian Premier League with Ismaily should have earned him an automatic place in Avram Grant’s squad. Antwi has bagged 12 league goals and had scored in 19 straight games, numbering up to 23 goals. The last time he failed to score in a competitive game was June 2013. The reasons for his omission and the preference of Crystal Palace’s Kwesi Appiah who just completed a loan spell with English fifth-tier side Cambridge United, scoring six goals, still remains better than with Grant and his technical team. It is a fact that Grant share the same agent with Saif Rubie who is also agent for Black Stars pair Christian Atsu and Samuel Inkoom.
ELVIS MANU – Feyenoord 7/10
Maybe the only justification for Grant’s reasons for not handing a debut call-up to the Feyenoord star is issues pending with his nationality switch. The attacker has been phenomenal for Feyenoord in both the Eredivisie and Uefa Europa League. Manu has goals in both the Uefa Champions League and the Uefa Europa League. Since returning to Feyenoord from Cambuur, Manu has been their top man, shouldering both their domestic and European campaigns. Manu has reportedly told Guus Hiddink he’s not interested to join his Oranje side and publicly stated his willingness to play for Ghana.
THOMAS PARTEY – Almeria 6.5/10
Sit back and watch the Spanish La Liga again. Watch the games between Almeria and Barcelona and the 4-1 reverse against Real Madrid. Partey, 21, has been spending the season on loan from La Liga title-holders Atletico Madrid and on his debut full season in the Spanish top-flight, the former Tema Youth starlet has been phenomenal in the league. Partey’s form and qualities in the La Liga is rich enough to earn him a senior Ghana call-up. His 13 starts in the La Liga this season is better 75% of all midfielders named by Avram Grant.
GIDEON BAAH – HJK Helsinki 6.5/10
One of the most surprising omissions from the team. The former Asante Kotoko defender was named in the Uefa Europa League Best XI after the end of the group stages but still could not catch the attention of Grant and his team. He also won a double in Finland – winning the league and the Finnish FA Cup. His two goals in the league not just enough for him as he went ahead to net twice from a defensive role in the Europa League – scoring against FC Copenhagen and Serie A side Torino. Baah should have majestically walked into that 31-man squad.
BERNARD MENSAH – Vitoria Guimaraes 7/10
For Valencia to pursue a 20-year-old African talent in Portugal with 2 million Euros and yet have the offer rejected speaks volumes about the quality of the player in question. The former Fetteh Feyenoord starlet is using his first full season in the Portuguese top-flight to write a great script about his qualities. Mensah, despite his tender age, is riding Vitoria’s domestic, contributing four goals from midfield and providing as many as five assists to his team-mates. He merits a call-up.
NANA AKWASI ASARE – KAA Gent 6.5/10
Talking about calling Nana Asare for the Black stars is almost becoming a cliche because it appears there is a deliberate decision to overlook him. The 28-year-old has been one of Ghana’s most consistent players abroad for the past three or four seasons but has not always been considered. Nana Asare’s role at Gent in the Belgian Pro League is varying. He could adapt well to various roles on the flanks and would have provided an option in both lateral defense and attacking roles. He has started all 21 Pro League games for Gent this season and completed 20 of them.
PHILEMON OFOSU-AYEH – Aalen 6/10
German-born defender of Ghanaian descent. Renowned for his explosive pace and abilities on the flanks. Ayeh’s vision and talent on the ball allows him to create opportunities for his team-mates. Though Aalen are not faring that well in the Bundesliga II, Ayeh has distinguished himself at his club and drawn raving reviews from the German press for his qualities. He’s still 23 and must be considered for call-up after the AFCON tournament.
REINHOLD YABO – Karlsruher SC 6.5/10
There seem to be no deficit in the Black Stars’ midfield compartment but the nature and qualities of German-born Ghanaian midfielder Reinhold Yabo should push him into the team. Unless he is not been followed. Yabo, 22, has game-winning mentality to his game and also double as a game-changer. Karlsruher’s season has moved on his qualities and stewardship. In midfield, the strong man is a gladiator and depository of power-play and high-sense.
MICHAEL ESSIEN – AC Milan 7/10
Unlike Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Essien is not on suspension and has maintained his gentility in matters relating to the Black Stars. Even if Essien doesn’t start games at Milan, we still can’t dodge the fact that we need his experience and big personality at the AFCON. If you saw Essien in action for AC Milan against Inter in the Milan derby then you know he is not finished yet. The former Chelsea and Real Madrid man showed enough power and quality on the pitch that could still be beneficial to us. Somebody should tell us what Essien did wrong. At least it is obvious he’s better than Alfred Duncan and players of his like in the squad.
ANTHONY ANNAN – HJK Helsinki 6.5/10
After the Schalke disappointment, Annan returned to action strongly, commanding regular playing time at HJK and helping them to win a double for joining them in the summer as a free agent. The 28-year-old used the later stages of the Finnish season to advertise his good form and also draw interest from other clubs. Annan has been out of the Ghana squad for nearly four years and it wouldn’t have been bad to reward him with a recall after his double-winning season with HJK.
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