Ibrahim Sulemana — Debutant
Ibrahim Sulemana — Debutant

2026 World Cup Qualifiers: Rising stars Sulemana, Thomas-Asante aim to shine in Black Stars

Two outfield debutants are set to make their mark and fight for permanent spots in the Black Stars as they gear up for crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Mali.


 Brandon Thomas-Asante and Ibrahim Sulemana earned their first national team call-ups last week following impressive seasons with their European clubs, catching the attention of head coach Otto Addo, who is revamping the national team with a mix of young talents and experienced players.

West Bromwich Albion attacker Thomas-Asante had an outstanding season as one of the English Championship side's top scorers last season, netting 12 goals in 43 appearances across all competitions.

The 25-year-old's performance was so impactful that Coach Otto Addo included him in the squad in place of Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams, who married his long-time girlfriend, Patricia Morales, last Saturday and is due to undergo an operation.

Thomas-Asante, born in England to a Jamaican mother and Ghanaian father, faces strong competition from established attackers such as Osman Bukari, Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, Antoinne Semenyo, Jordan Ayew, and Kamaldeen Sulemana for a spot in the national team.

Brandon Thomas-Asante

Known for his clinical finishing and alertness in front of goal, his spectacular overhead strike against Stoke City in a 2-0 home win last November was voted the club's best goal of the 2022-23 season.

Cagliari Calcio's defensive midfielder, Ibrahim Sulemana, has also made waves in Serie A, with 21 appearances and two goals in his debut season. The 21-year-old, who joined from Verona, has quickly become a key player under coach Claudio Ranieri, who praised his ball recovery skills and overall impact on the pitch.

"Sulemana is the boy I expected; he knows how to recover many balls and he will be useful to us," the respected Italian coach said of his new Ghanaian star.

For the Sunyani-born player to have earned a call-up ahead of experienced skipper Andre Ayew highlights the coach’s confidence in the youngster's abilities and his place in the national team's long-term plans.

Competing for a spot in a talent-rich midfield, Sulemana will face stiff competition from established stars such as Ernest Nuamah, Thomas Partey, Abdul Salis Samad, Edmund Addo, and Elisha Owusu.

As Coach Otto Addo continues to shape the Black Stars into a formidable team, the inclusion of Thomas-Asante and Sulemana signals a commitment to integrating emerging talents with seasoned stars. 

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