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Otto Addo finally names Black Stars squad for Nigeria playoffs

BY: Kweku Zurek
Otto Addo finally names Black Stars squad
Otto Addo finally names Black Stars squad

Black Stars coach Otto Addo has finally named his eagerly-anticipated squad for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 playoffs against Nigeria.

The 27-man Black Stars will take on the Super Eagles of Nigeria in two matches scheduled for Kumasi and Abuja respectively as the search for a ticket to November’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar heats up.

Ghana will host the first leg at the Baba Yara Sports stadium on Friday, March 25, before travelling to Abuja for the 2nd leg on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

Debuts

Addo has handed debut call-ups to Belgium-based duo KAA Gent midfielder Elisha Owusu and FC Brugge fullback Denis Odoi as well as Hearts of Oak fullback Dennis Korsah.

Named amongst the forwards is AS Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan who has previously turned down two invitations to represent the national team.

Also named in the squad is Arsenal star and deputy Ghana skipper Thomas Partey, Daniel Amartey (Leicester City), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), Mohammed Kudus (Ajax), Alexander Djiku and Issahaku Abdul Fatawu (Sporting CP-Portugal).

Mohammed Kudus and goalkeeper Richard Ofori are also back in the squad after missing the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon earlier this year due to injuries.

Addo called up four goalkeepers, nine defenders, six midfielders, four wingers and four forwards.

Controversy over squad release

The release of the squad had become the subject of public discourse given that playoff opponents Nigeria had released theirs over a fortnight ago.

The GFA spokesperson, Henry Asante Twum had stated that it was a "purely strategic" decision not to release it.

He said the Ghana Football Association decided to hold the list back because sometimes when it was released early, it courted abuse on social media for certain players which affected them mentally.

“It is a technical decision backed by management, and it is a well-thought-out and purely strategic move," he said.

“They felt it’s a way of controlling or minimising the abuse that normally takes place before games, especially on social media. Sometimes, the public abuse gets to the players and affects their mentality,”

“I know the players and their clubs have been informed and the coaches are in talks with the individual players as we speak.

“Coaches can choose not to go public at all and it’s within their right to do so.”

The release of the list to the public, which comes 72 hours to the Nigeria clash makes Ghana - the lowest-ranked nation in the African World Cup playoffs - the last to release its squad.

Full draw for the final stage of African World Cup qualifying:

Egypt v Senegal

Cameroon v Algeria

Ghana v Nigeria

DR Congo v Morocco

Mali v Tunisia

See the squad below: