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Ghana coach defends home-based squad for AFCON qualifiers

BY: Maurice Quansah
COVID-19 lessons: Black Stars coach, Charles Kwablan Akonnor

Black Stars coach, Charles Akonnor has explained that lessons learnt from Ghana's last Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier against Sudan informed his decision to invite a squad of entirely home-based players to begin camping ahead of the team's qualifiers against South Africa, and Sao Tome and Principe in March.

On Friday Akonnor named a 32-man squad to move to begin preparation for the double header qualifiers, explaining that his inability to get the full complement of his foreign-based players for the Sudan match in Omdurman because of COVID-19 challenges and travel restrictions.

The Ghana coach defended the decision to build his team around home-based players while he hopes that some foreign-based players will join the test of the squad for the two matches.

The coach expects some of his foreign-based players to join the squad later

"This is not the first time a national team coach is inviting home based players. For us, it has become necessary to do this because of the challenges we faced before the Ghana versus Sudan match when players were not able to come because of COVID-19 issues," Akonnor said.

"We made some late call-ups, but travelling restrictions and quarantine issues made things difficult for us. So, management and the technical team thought it wise to do this by inviting a chunk of home players to move to camp to prepare for the games.

"We believe that once the time gets closer, we will look at the foreign players who are doing well and without issues of COVID-19 to join the players. With all this at stake, we (myself and the rest of the technical team) have been able to go around to look into what is going on with our clubs and I must commend our coaches for a good job done.

Akonnor and his assistant, David Duncan, have been visiting league venues monitoring players in the Ghana Premier League, even though he named three players -- Evans Etti (Accra Lions FC), Andy Kumi Francis (Unistar Academy) and Welbeck Takyi (Tano Bofoakwa) -- from the second tier competition.

"The players have done so well and we believe that those we have selected are the best in the country. Hopefully when the foreign guys are able to come and join them, we will have a solid team to play South Africa and Sao Tome," Akonnor added.

hopes a specific instance of feeling hopeful More (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)