Former Accra Hearts of Oak and Great Olympics coach, Mohammed Ahmed (Polo), has tasked Black Stars coach, Charles Kwabla Akonnor, to select players capable of winning the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament to prove that local coaches have the ability to win major trophies.
Polo said that Ghana's Black Stars have always qualified for the AFCON in recent years, but winning the trophy to end a trophy drought of nearly three decades is the main challenge facing Akonnor now.
"He has to assemble players who have the ability to conquer Africa once again to prove that the sleeping giant of African football is wide awake," the outspoken Polo told the Graphic Sports in an exclusive interview.
“In every tournament, coaches build their teams around some core players, so in this tournament, Akonnor should build his players around the Ayew brothers, as well as Thomas Partey and Mohammed Kudus who have proved that they could be relied upon in such tough competitions."
"Under no circumstance should Akonnor allow officialdom to interfere in his team selection because he will be the one football fans will criticise if anything goes wrong."
Polo, who won the 1978 AFCON with Ghana, said next year's tournament was a big opportunity for Akonnor to prove that he had the ability to take the Black Stars to any major tournament and also to assure the football authorities that local coaches could be relied upon to manage national teams.
"Kwasi Appiah had that opportunity but he could not break the jinx, hence the need for Akonnor to do so at the next tournament in Cameroun when the best in Africa assemble to fight for honours,” he emphasised.
Polo wants the Black Stars coach to make a case for local coaches at the AFCON
Polo advised Akonnor to always ensure that selection was based on the current form of players.
"Since many of our players are playing outside Ghana, Akonnor should devise a system of monitoring their performance so that he would know who is in top shape to merit invitation for the tournament.
"But some locals such as Gladson Awako, Abdul-Ganiyu Ismail and Razak Abalora who have proved themselves should also be offered the opportunity to be at the tournament,” he stressed.
"He (Akonnor) should select the best from the locals and foreign-based players and ensure that even his substitutes can turn things around to give Ghana her fifth continental trophy next year," he added.