A number of the greenhorns included by Black stars head coach Kwesi Appiah in his squad for Ghana’s opening match of the AFCON 2019 qualifiers will have him thinking hard as the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia wait patiently.
The toast of the fans back at home in Kumasi, Asante Kotoko’s Felix Annan’s energy and nuance for the game at this level for a first timer will have impressed the gaffer.
He has two other locally based goalkeepers; Richard Ofori and Joseph Addo of Aduana Stars, to fend off if he will be the man between the sticks on game day,
In the past, Ofori had always been the preferred choice, at least during the Avram Grant era but Kwesi Appiah’s second coming, from my observations, is likely to be laden with surprises.
The Kotoko goalkeeper has shown little sign of intimidation and looks to be enjoying his stint with the national team.
His decision making, command of his area and perhaps his occasional knack for showboating will be on display.
Manchester City’s Yaw Yeboah remains that gem in the rough that is yet to place his mark on the game.
He looks like he has been playing in the national team forever and whoever has been to the Right to Dream Academy where he was groomed won’t be too surprised.
Gifted with a deft touch and advanced decision making, he picks his moments well when surging forward and looks like a real long term house hold name in Ghana if he can keep his head in the game and learn.
Producing the unexpected is a trait that separates the mediocre from the elite in the game of football and if he gets the opportunity to feature, expect the long range pile driver or the eye of the needle pass with the outside boot.
He also has a good eye for goals even though the stats show he hasn’t scored many.
Yeboah’s likely partner in midfield will be Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Teye Partey who renewed his deal with Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.
Yes, he has not played consistently under Diego Simeone but he has the respect of the demanding Argentine.
He does the simple things well and has shown that he will also welcome the opportunity to take on more responsibility for Ghana if given the chance.
He looks an improved player every time he plays despite the limited opportunities.
He will be looking to use this AFCON qualifier against Ethiopia and the games against the United States and Mexico to improve his value as a player and also stir up interest in a number of top tier teams who have space for a player aching to show what he is made of.
You are unlikely to come across few players who will attempt an intricate pass or surge forward after emerging from a hard tackle but Partey is that kind of player.
I have keenly monitored Gyan and he looks fit and has been at is flamboyant best during the sessions and will most likely be the number one option but Rafael Dwamena has forced his name into the conversation.
It is hard to get noticed when you play in the Swiss league but the youngster has been a beast and managed to grab a brace when the team played local side Asokwa Deportivo in a warm up game.
Dwamena says there is no pressure to perform despite his growing reputation,he says he will be raring to go when called upon.
Ghana will seek to dominate Ethiopia from start to finish with a comfortable scoreline to boot, anything less will be unacceptable.
Kwesi Appiah holds all the aces as he begins chapter two of his career as head coach of Ghana’s national team and he has the look of a man seeking to right the wrongs of the past.
Kwesi Appiah and his new look backroom staff just cannot afford to begin the journey with a stutter and I specially mention the backroom because respected figures like Ibrahim Tanko, Stephen Appiah and Richard Kingson now hold positions most Ghanaians are highly supportive of.
There is a lot at stake and a false start will leave scars, but team spirit,awareness and tactical manipulation should let this exciting team flourish.
Will it be youth or veteran presence that dominates? Appiah holds all the answers.
I am not that rude. I actually do know a few Ethiopian players who could be a nuisance on the day.
They do play some delightful football when allowed the space.
Look out for Oumed Okuri whose displays have been spoken about in the Egyptian Premier League with club side El-Entag El-Harby and also Salhadin Bergicho.
The Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi will bring with it loyal and passionate fans of the national team and they will expect the Black Stars to grab Group B by the scruff of the neck beginning with Ethiopia.
By: Benjamin Nketsia/citifmonline.com/Ghana