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Charles Akonnor happy with players' performance in camp

BY: Bernard Neequaye
Bawa Lord Martey (middle) and his goalkeeping teammates, Joseph Addo and Eric Ofori Antwi (right) training with the Black Stars team
Bawa Lord Martey (middle) and his goalkeeping teammates, Joseph Addo and Eric Ofori Antwi (right) training with the Black Stars team

Black Stars coach, Charles Kwablan Akonnor, has explained that his decision to invite players from the second tier league into the Black Stars squad is informed by a desire for fairness to home-based players.

After supervising four days of residential training at the McDan La Town Park and the Accra Stadium, Akonnor said he was impressed with the performance of the three Division One League players -- Evans Etti (Accra Lions FC), Andy Kumi Francis (Unistar Academy) and Welbeck Takyi (Tano Bofoakwa).

“I think we have to be fair in giving opportunities to deserving players. I don’t think concentrating on only Premier League players will be enough andI must admit that I have been impressed with them [Division One League trio],” Coach Akonnor told the Daily Graphic after training at the Accra Stadium yesterday morning.

Residential camping

The national trainer opened residential camping last Monday in Accra with 26 home-based players to prepare for Ghana's final two 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next month.

After training on Thursday morning at the Accra Stadium, the players were released to their clubs ahead of this weekend’s Ghana Premier League and Division One League encounters and are expected back in camp on February 25.

Akonnor said he was generally satisfied with the training and also believed his decision to build a standing team with home-based players due to uncertainties over the release of some key foreign-based players due to travel restrictions in some European countries occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am happy with what I have seen so far and I am looking forward to welcome them back on Thursday after their club football matches.

“We will have to see if there is a need to make additions and omissions before the matches and when there is a need to do that I will definitely effect it,” said Akonnor.

Foreign-based contingent

The coach admitted yesterday that he was uncertain about the arrival in camp of his foreign-based contingent for the two important matches, adding that he would be glad to have some players abroad joining their counterparts already in camp in order to have a full complement of the team ahead of the qualifiers.

He indicated that he would not hesitate to replace or add new players to the squad currently in camp before naming the final team to engage South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.

Ghana top the Group C log but tied on points with second-placed South Africa and need just a win in the two games for automatic qualification to the continent’s flagship tournament in Cameroun next year.