Photos By Senyuiedzorm A. Adadevoh
Avram Grant has named his final 23 to represent Ghana at the African Cup of Nations. The time for speculation is over and until something unfortunate happens between now and January 13, these men will be tasked to win the trophy for Ghana. These 23 players offer variety and different attributes to Avram Grant and Kweku Arhin discusses all these 23 players.
In Razak Braimah, Avram Grant has an athletic keeper who is adept both on the ground and in the air. The Cordoba man is physically strong and active and his signature spider man animation is further testament to his athleticism.
Fatau Dauda provides agility to the team with his sharp reflexes. The Enyimba keeper has the ability to move quickly and command his area. His save against Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2014 World Cup is still one of the highlights in his career but that was clear evidence of his agility.
Richard Ofori is one of the few keepers in Ghana who is adept with the ball at his feet. Time and again he initiated attacks from the back in Wa All Stars league triumph. The keeper has the courage to take risks from the back and that could be an added bonus should Avram look to vary his way of attack.
If there is one person who will run up and down a game for 90 minutes, then it is Harrison Afful. The full back puts in a tremendous effort in the course of a game and runs his socks off tirelessly. His endeavor is next to none and he will offer Ghana an outlet throughout the competition.
Andy Yiadom provides freshness to the full back position of Ghana. A different dimension to all the other wide men in the team. Born and bred in the United Kingdom, Yiadom’s style is more direct and willing to run to the byline and whip in crosses. This could serve as a variant as well as fresh attacking ideas to the team.
The one position Ghana has never had a natural fit has been a left footed player in the left back role but in Baba Rahman, Ghana has found its balance. The young Schalke full back provides defensive cover and more importantly, a presence in attack driving from the back with his pin-point crosses.
Frank Acheampong provides rapidity and swiftness to the team. His ability to run on the ball is lightning and is hardly caught. Named as a defender, it is expected that he will battle Baba Rahman for the left back slot and offer more offensive presence with his speed.
Not often associated with defenders but Daniel Amartey is an epitome of composure. His calmness on the ball and in dealing with situations exhumes this characteristic. It comes as no surprise he plays in the middle of the park at his club side and still exhibits the self-control.
In the air and on the ground, Jonathan Mensah proves time and again he is physically strong. Efficient in the tackle and useful in aerial duels, the youth World Cup winner embodies strength. He is not one to be beaten easily by an opposing attacker and very useful in Ghana’s bid to win the cup.
Despite his core duties of being a defender and much hate associated with him following the Brazil 2014 debacle, John Boye provides elegance on the ball. He has been a ball playing defender for Ghana with the ability to bring the ball out of defence. In addition to this, he provides a goal scoring threat during set pieces.
An accident prior to the non-residential camping of the Black Stars did not deter Edwin Gyimah from arriving the training. Such relentlessness and persistence will be needed from him and all members of the team to ensure Ghana ends its anxious wait for an AFCON title.
Afriyie Acquah will provide an aggression, tenacity and grit to the team’s midfield. His ability to fight and win every loose ball will be vital in winning games in a tournament where flair is mixed with aggression. The African game is a pure power game and well suited for Afriyie Acquah.
One player who can play close to 5 positions in the Black Stars team is Emmanuel Agyeman Badu. The Udinese man has been deployed in several positions under Grant. Badu has played as the anchor man in midfield (no 6), a box to box midfield role (8), an offensive midfield role (10), a right winger (7) and not forgetting, Badu played for more than an hour as center back when the Satellites won gold in Egypt 2009.
Thomas Partey is currently the closest player Ghana has to Michael Essien. Energetic box to box midfielder who runs through the center of the pitch with such poise and verve. His presence in midfield will add quality to a midfield certainly packed with pace and flair.
PRECISION AND ACCURACY:
Mubarak Wakaso will provide Ghana legs in midfield with his energy but what he will certainly add is the quality and accuracy of his passes. Wakaso has the potential to mix between short and long but most of than not his passes have always met the intended targets accurately. In addition to this, his set pieces are precise and will offer an additional goal threat in dead ball situations.
The Black Stars have yet to fully replace the creativity of Stephen Appiah in midfield but in Ebenezer Ofori, Grant may have found the solution. Ofori is the perfect roaming playmaker (number 8) for Ghana who can pick the ball in the center of the field and make something happen. His ability to pick a pass makes him a useful creative add and in addition, he finds his range from distance.
Christian Atsu will undoubtedly provide the flair for Ghana on the wings with his trickery. After dazzling fans and pundits alike in the 2015 edition, the stage is set for a more matured performance from the Newcastle man to weave his magic and provide aesthetic football for Ghanaians scoring goals and providing assists.
Samuel Tetteh provides the directness needed to unlock many defences in the tournament. Blessed with pace but not much trickery, the former WAFA player will look to move directly at goal with his speed without anything fanciful. His approach is very simple but effective. His goal against Rwanda is evidence of his directness to goal.
He is not the most skillful player in the team neither is he the fastest but Andre Dede Ayew compensates the lack of these two with pure football intelligence. Ability to move into spaces and read situations have seen the man often used wide at the right places at the right time to bag in important goals. Such high level of reading games have seen him deployed in key positions and Avram will rely on this high level of intelligence to make a difference in games especially the ones which will be fairly balanced.
If there is anyone tipped to replace Asamoah Gyan in the future, then it is Ebenezer Assifuah. The FC Sion attacker is known for his determination and tireless work on the pitch. In Assifuah, Grant has a striker willing to chase down loose balls and make a nuisance of himself all game. His work ethic will be a useful addition to the squad.
In Bernard Tekpetey, Avram has a player who is largely unknown but if the last few AFCONs are to go by, then Ghanaians are in for a treat. Junior Agogo and Kwasi Appiah were relatively unknown and this helped their course in 2008 and 2015 respectively and the same can be said of Tekpetey. His unpredictability could be a trump card for Avram.
Run at a defence with such speed and power and Avram Grant has that in Jordan Ayew. His final ball has been lacking but when he sets up on a mazy run, it takes something cynical stopping him. Such drive is needed in the Ghana frontline which lacks much speed. Jordan will offer that difference as well as ability to shoot from distance.
Forget all the characteristics in his playing ability. In Asamoah Gyan, Grant has a captain who has been present at three World Cups and five Cup of Nations and has the enviable record in scoring in all 8 tournaments. Big game temperament is next to none and will be a calming presence both on and off the pitch.
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