PART THREE: WHAT IF AKONNOR FIELDED A LOCAL XI IN THE AFCON QUALIFIERS?
For one born in Nungua, a coastal Ghanaian town, Charles Akonnor would know a thing or two about fishing — about casting one’s net far and wide, and coming up with quite a catch.
Earlier this month, the Black Stars head coach cast his net into ‘unusual’ waters, coming up with a 32-man squad for March’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers drawn entirely from the domestic scene.
That list has been tweaked this week, with the two Division One League players — strikers Evans Etti and Welbeck Takyi — dropped, along with some of the Ghana Premier League stars. A couple of foreign-based professionals — China-based Mubarak Wakaso and Emmanuel Boateng — have been included in the new list, and we might see some more in future revisions.
Imagine, though, that Akonnor decides to field an entirely local-based team against Sao Tome & Principe and South Africa — what might it look like?
Ink & Kicks‘ editorial team offers a glimpse in a three-part series this week. The well-guarded defence and star-studded midfield have been covered; today, we focus on a potent, three-pronged attack.
Any who might have been saddened by the departure of fan favourite Songne Yacouba from Kotoko should kindly unwrap the big, white handkerchief around Kwame Opoku‘s wrist and wipe their tears.
The former Nkoranza Warriors man has proven one of the season’s biggest revelations, and the national team selectors have clearly been paying attention to this seven-goal striker who is so easily capable of beating defenders with both sublime skill and sheer force.
Three forwards currently in the league — Diawisie Taylor, Joseph Esso and Kwame Peprah have scored more — but Opoku, even in his maiden Premier League campaign, makes as strong a case as any to spearhead this attack.
Blessed with a low center of gravity and lightning-quick feet, Yaw Annor’s impressive ability to skip past challenges is hardly surprising, and he is at his best when receiving the ball from deep and driving forward.
At any given moment, he can shoot off to the left, to the right, or down the middle, with an air of unpredictability that makes him such a joy to watch and a handful to handle. Press him and he’ll worm his way right through; sit deep and he’ll merrily pick you off with his exquisite pace and trickery.
The electric Annor seems to get better each season, stretching back to his time at Bechem United. Now at Ashantigold, he appears to be hitting all-new heights of brilliance, and, clearly, Annor hasn’t been invited to the Stars’ fold just because his surname rhymes with the gaffer’s.
Eleven Wonders may be sitting just above the relegation zone, but Salifu Ibrahim has been a rare shining light in what has been a mixed season for the Techiman-based club.
For a player who won five man-of-the-match awards in his first eight matches, there is little surprise that almost all the big clubs on the local scene are after his signature.
Ibrahim’s four assists this season typify his creativity in the final third but he’s got so much more to his game. The young winger is nimble-footed, can shoot and boasts fantastic work rate.