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Keep Wollacott as No. 1 for World Cup

BY: Peter Sarbah
Joseph Wollacott
Joseph Wollacott

A Former national goalkeeper, Abukari Damba, has given his thumbs up for Joseph Wollacott to be maintained as Ghana’s first choice goalkeeper for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, saying the Swindon Town player has shown a lot of consistent high performance since his international debut last year.


Damba, who was a reserve goalkeeper for Ghana at the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations and onetime goalkeepers’ trainer for the

Black Meteors, said Wollacott had been the most reliable among the national goalkeepers and it was only reasonable that Coach Otto Addo stuck to him as the first choice, while competition was created among the other team goalkeepers for the second and third choices.

Damba, in assessing the performance of the national goalies, observed that the impressive performance of Abdul Manaf Nurudeen against Chile in the just-ended Kirin Cup in Japan, coupled with the return of former first choice goalie, Richard Ofori, would create competition and give the team’s technical handlers a selection headache.

Assessment

However, he said, that one outstanding game was not enough to make a fair assessment of the capabilities of Nurudeen, for instance, thus Wollacott must certainly be our best bet at the World Cup, having given a good account of himself since making his international debut in a World Cup qualifier against Zimbabwe last October.

“I think if we're going to be very fair, and looking at the current performances of these goalkeepers over time, in terms of reliability and consistency, Wollacott stands tall among the goalkeepers,” looking at his current exploits,” said Damba, who pointed out to the young goalie’s exploits in the 2021 AFCON in Cameroun and in the World Cup qualifiers.

While analysing the strength of the three goalkeepers [Wollacott, Ofori and Nurudeen], Damba was also of the opinion that the Swindon Town goalie might have had some difficult times at the start of his international career but had since settled in well for the first choice role.

''Wollacott was scouted from a lower division league in England but then we all thought it was quite a difficult ground for him because he was brought in at a very difficult time and he was thrown straight into the hot seat. In my opinion, it was a difficult thing to do but he stood up to the challenge even though he had difficult times and slowly he started building his confidence. We all saw his exploits in the last AFCON and the World Cup qualifiers.

Evolution of goalkeeping

Damba, who featured for clubs like RTU, Accra Great Olympics and Malaysian side, Perak FC, explained further that the work of goalkeeping in modern day football had evolved from merely stopping the ball from entering the net, to helping in building an attack, which was a quality that most of our current goalkeepers lacked, with Wollacott having a slight edge over the other contenders for the position.

“We have qualities of goalkeepers who are shot stoppers and I’ll tell you honestly that the goalkeepers we have in Ghana currently, if you look at Wollacott, if you look at Ofori, these are typical shot-stoppers.

“I am saying shot stopper because if you look around the world currently football has evolved and if you look at the current trend of goalkeeping, their roles and responsibilities when it comes to playing as a libero or a sweeper in terms of technical qualities with the feet, our goalkeepers are not at the highest level as far as playing as the plus one is concerned,” he observed.