Black Meteors begin preparation for U-23 AFCON
Coach Ibrahim Tanko and his players have gathered at the Ghanaman Centre of Excellence at Prampram to begin preparations towards the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco next month.
The 22 home-based players were drawn from the betPawa Premier League and some lower-tier clubs. They comprise goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim, Essu Williams of Legon Cities, Aziz Daari of Bechem United, Augustne Randolf of Karela United, Aaron Essel of Bechem United, Nuhu Tanko of Maana FC, David Oppong (King Faisal FC), Dominic Nsobila (Accra Lions), Hafiz Ibrahim (Attram de Visser), Salifu Samari (Accra Lions), Samuel Ashie Quaye (Great Olympics), Sylvester Simba (Dreams FC), Yahaya Mohammed (Tamale City).
The others are Issah Kuka (Real Tamale United), Razak Yussif (Great Olympics), Emmanuel Appau (Goldstars FC), Dede Ishmael (Dreams FC), Godfred Opoku (Aduana Stars FC), Emmanuel Adjei (Attram de Visser), Suraj Seidu (Hearts of Oak), Kwesi Oppong (Heart of Lions) and Derrick Fordjour (Medeama SC).
Olympic ticket at stake
The Meteors are paired with host Morocco, Guinea and Congo in Group A of the competition that serves as qualifiers for the next Olympics in Paris, France.
Coach Tanko’s side will be looking to secure their place at the Paris Olympics, with only the top three teams at the June 24-July 8 tournament in Morocco guaranteed a spot at the Summer Games.
Meanwhile, experienced Coach Josef Emmanuel Sarpong has advised the technical team of the Black Meteors to strengthen the striking and defence departments of the team ahead of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Morocco, saying such reinforcements were crucial in making the team very competitive and also positioning the team to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games, writes George Ernest Asare.
He said the failure of Ghana to win major tournaments in recent times was partly due to the lack of potent strikers and good defenders and added that club and national teams had always struggled to score goals- the lifeblood of any competition -and also easily concede cheap goals in matches.
“We need to revamp the team but not a total overhauling. This means we need to strengthen the departments that are suspected to be the weak links in the team to achieve results in the tournament,” he advised in an interview with Graphic Sports.
He was of the view also that in an attempt to qualify for the global tournament in Paris, it was very important for the FA to work with the technical handlers to map out a plan that would ensure good preparation to boost the team’s confidence when the African competition starts next month.
“To win a tournament of any form, it is important for the team to go through a well-planned training regime.
“Traditionally, Ghana is a poor starter in competitions, and if this continues, we shall have a difficult and tricky tournament in Morocco. However, on paper the Meteors look strong and favourites,” added Coach Sarpong, whose career has seen him handling top clubs such as Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko, Great Olympics, Dawu Youngsters and Liberty Professionals, among others.
On what should be done for Ghana to hit the tournament running, he said it was up to the handlers of the Meteors to use their training programme to settle on the first team and also have a solid substitutes bench.
Describing Ghana’s group, comprising Morocco, Guinea and Congo, as tricky, the former assistant coach of the Meteors said with the football academy concept of player development well-grounded in some African countries, it was risky to underestimate any of the participating teams in the tournament.