You just had the feeling that there was not going to be too much of a surprise after the final squad was named by gaffer Avram Grant. A lot had been said about who was likely to make the provisional squad and who the casualties were going to be..
I have always held the opinion that managers should simply go ahead and name their final 23 after careful considerations of the individual capabilities of personnel and whether they fit into a manager short, medium or long term strategy. It saves them the headache of having to drop certain players whose world could come crushing with their exclusion from the final squad.
Players all over the globe know that they would have to tremendously up their game if they are to make the cut for a particular tourney. Ghana is not an exception so that when these lads have proven themselves, they make the squad for the tourney.
A gaffer could have more than a pair of players who may be good enough for a competition thus justifying why a 31-man squad may have been called up in Ghana’s case but truth is, is only a couple of days good enough to assess the capabilities of a player? I am not too sure. That is my opinion though as Nana Ansah Kwao IV of JOY Fm would say.
Four lads, Razak Braimah (Mirandes, Spain), Fatau Dauda (AshGold) and Ernest Sowah (Don Bosco, DR Congo) and Stephen Adams(Berekum Chelsea) were considered by manager Grant. I am not too sure whether there would have been enough complains as to why they were selected. To be fair to the critics though, a cursory look at the individual choices raises serious concerns.
Fatau Dauda has had a nightmarish experience at club level which ultimately dovetailed into very poor performances for the Black Stars. He simply lost his aura of invincibility after some notable performances at the 2013 AFCON which led to Orlando Pirates snapping him. That was the beginning of the end really. He has not been the same since his ill-faited move to Soweto and subsequent transfer to Chippa United where his contract was abrogated. To make things worse for him, court litigations have conspired to make his move to Ashgold insignificant as the club like others in Ghana, are yet to play any competitive game.
Friendlies, you have to say are simply not good enough for a player who is desperate to compete at the highest level.
Razak Braimah thought he would probably never get the chance again after a poor outing in a friendly international against Japan as happened to the likes of Richard Amamoo and co.
Luck struck twice though as neither Dauda nor Adams failed to stake a claim for the nation’s number one slot when given the opportunity. Playing regularly for Segunda division side Mirandes in Spain has given him the competitive edge that is required to play at the highest level but would this be enough to guarantee him the number one spot? There have been moments of uncertainty with his anticipation and timeliness and if he can work to improve that, he is more than likely to be rewarded with the nation’s number one slot at the AFCON.
Ernest Sowah? Where has he come from was a question I asked myself when I heard he had made the provisional squad for the AFCON? This was a young man who made his name with Berekum Chelsea a few years ago and even made the squad for AFCON 2012 incidentally in Gabon/ Equatorial Guinea.
A transfer to DRC Don Bosco, a coup at the time by millionaire businessman Moise Katumbi was to serve as the platform to bigger things. But there was a caveat. He was in an unknown and distant territory which only made it difficult for his performances to be noted. Luck had thus eluded him for almost three years. Even he, would not have been dreaming of another opportunity until the lads(Fatau,Adams and co) kept fluffing the opportunities given them. He was pretty impressive at the local base camp at Lizzy’s and Carl Reindorf Park. He must be on cloud nine at the moment.
So these lads were lucky to make the squad- Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), John Boye (Erciyesspor, Turkey), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Awal Mohammed (Maritzburg, South Africa), Baba Rahman (Augsburg, Germany), Gyimah Edwin (Mpumalanga Black Aces, South Africa), and Daniel Amartey, (FC Copenhagen, Denmark). Surely Amartey and Gyimah were the surprise package not because they are not good enough .Amartey seems to have been bidding his time in Denmark and rightly earned his call up. John Boye may be left wondering whether he might just lose his spot if what I saw at the pre-tournament camp was anything to go by. Amartey looked composed and solid and what a partnership he could form with the intelligent and consistent Jonathan Mensah.
Gyimah is deployed more as a holding midfielder at Mpumalanga. A manager of Grant’s stature would surely have spotted defensive abilities in the chap. Rahman has been brilliant at Augsburg and if he keeps his feet down he would be with the team for the next decade and more. What a player! I am not too sure why Edusei failed to make the squad. Injuries or suspensions could be costly for the team depending on how far we go. We may be forced to do with a makeshift. How worrying this could turn out to be.
Many a kid yearn to be in the spotlight and when it means playing at the highest level for a country like Ghana, it is more than a dream come true for these young footballers.
No wonder Ghana has been blessed in this department for as long as I can remember.
Nine of these lads, Rabiu Mohammed (Krasnodar, Russia), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese, Italy), Afriyie Acquah (Parma, Italy), Solomon Asante (T.P. Mazembe, DR Congo), Christian Atsu (Everton, England), Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic, Scotland), Andre Ayew (Olympique Marseille, France), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht, Belgium) and David Accam (Chicago Fire, USA) made it. Every side should have a balance vis-à-vis the threat of your opponent. Rabiu, Acquah, Badu and Wakasu are very much like for like lads though the latter two can also operate in deeper positions behind the strikers. You need that in a competition like the CAN. Atsu has failed to make the grade at Everton and is struggling. What an opportunity to get back into the heart and mind of Roberto Martinez. Ayew is the colossus in the absence of Kwadwo Asamoah. Accam and Acheampong are for the future but they would be yearning for an opportunity should it present itself. A blend of old and experience with an eye on the future. We will see how that pans out.
Jordan Ayew (Lorient, France), Mahatma Otoo (Songdal, Norway) Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, UAE) and Kwesi Appiah (Cambridge United, England) made it. Asa has been lethal and would as long as his legs can carry him, be Ghana’s best bet for goals.
Jordan seems to drift in and out of games and his scoring form over the years should be a worry on personal level. Seven goals in nineteen games for Lorient this season though should give him a lot of confidence going into the CAN but he has got to be a lot more consistent in front of goal.
For a player who plays in the 4 th tier like Kwesi Appiah, he must be in the seventh heaven. Opportunities like this do not come every day. He may have had six goals from sixteen games for Cambridge but this is the 4 th tier of English football for crying out loud. How has he made it? The jury would be out on him when he gets his opportunity. He would be ripped if he fails to deliver. We would sing his praises if he delivers like Agogo did from nowhere in CAN 2008.
Mahatma otoo was lethal in front of goal for Hearts Of Oak before sojourning to Europe to try his luck with Norwegian side Songdal. He struggled to make an impression at the beginning but he has turned the tide around in the last couple of months with his fair share of goals. He was nowhere near the squad until injuries to Jeffrey Schlupp and Abdul Majeed Waris gave him a lifeline. He has grabbed it with both hands and with Gyan more like the untouchable in the department, it’s all to play for in Mongomo granted they all get a fair chance by the gaffer.
The real deal though is whether this squad on the evidence of our performances at the last four CANS (three semi finals (2008, 2012, 2013) and a final berth in Angola(2010) can be bettered. This is a squad with potential but do not look that good on paper vis-à-vis what our opponents possess. Grant can make things happen if we take one game at a time with several new entrants, up to nine of them waiting for their first CAN appearances. From a patriotic perspective, I would back the lads to go all the way. On paper, it would be a big ask. Can they do it after thirty three years of waiting? Time will tell.
Goalkeepers: Razak Braimah (Mirandes, Spain), Fatau Dauda (AshGold) and Ernest Sowah (Don Bosco, DR Congo)
Defenders: Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), John Boye (Erciyesspor, Turkey), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Awal Mohammed (Maritzburg, South Africa), Baba Rahman (Augsburg, Germany), Gyimah Edwin (Mpumalanga Black Aces, South Africa), Daniel Amartey, (FC Copenhagen, Denmark)
Midfielders: Rabiu Mohammed (Krasnodar, Russia), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese, Italy), Afriyie Acquah (Parma, Italy), Solomon Asante (T.P. Mazembe, DR Congo), Christian Atsu (Everton, England), Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic, Scotland), Andre Ayew (Olympique Marseille, France), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht, Belgium), David Accam (Chicago Fire, USA)
Strikers: Jordan Ayew (Lorient, France), Mahatma Otoo (Songdal, Norway) Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, UAE), Kwesi Appiah (Cambridge United, England).
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