With the next Black Stars roster release imminent, eligible Ghanaian players – regardless of where they play in the world – have their hopes up, desirous of a place on that list to be announced by the technical team for the two 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers due next month.
One of those hopefuls is Karela United star Umar Bashiru, a player Ghana head coach Otto Addo may seriously want to consider.
The basic mentality one needs to possess in order to earn himself a chance to represent their country — that highest of honours — is a strict focus on bettering their club form.
Bashiru has, undoubtedly, achieved that at Karela this season. Perhaps one of the most underrated talents in the Ghana Premier League in recent years, the 24-year-old showed bags of potential for the Anyinase-based club last term, and he has only stepped it up this season.
His 11 goals and three assists are certainly remarkable for his role and, without a scintilla of doubt, Bashiru has done as much as anyone in the current campaign to merit that call-up.
A lanky, versatile midfielder who is dedicated, hardworking, humble and open to learning, Bashiru models his game on another who gets so little credit for his enduring brilliance in the middle of the park, Spain and Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets.
Bashiru possesses a fine first touch and terrific footwork, and is blessed with an ability to change direction with almost effortless ease. His sense of balance, combined with a keen awareness of his immediate surroundings, makes Bashiru a real threat wherever he finds himself on the pitch at a given moment.
And now he has unlocked a new level of threat, stepping up to assume responsibility for Karela’s scoring needs and add goals to his game — especially after the club lost last season’s top marksman, Diawisie Taylor — though not at the expense of his task of creating for those teammates whose job it actually is to score goals.
The competition for places in the Ghana midfield is quite intense, with Addo and his bench now having an embarrassment of riches to pick from. Even so, Bashiru, with his movement and nous, could prove himself a worthy inclusion and even compete favourably with some of the team’s more established names.
It’s an opportunity, “a massive honour”, Kumasi-born Bashiru believes he deserves.
“I have worked really hard this season,” he told Ink & Kicks.
“If the call-up comes, it is progress from what I have done here at Karela.”
He does speak like a man with unwavering faith in his own ability, a player who has made a strong case for himself as arguably the best central midfielder in the country. It’s only fair that Addo, if he’s paid any attention at all to the Ghanaian top-flight, shares such evidence-backed faith, too.