Sports Features of Friday, 21 February 2014
With Ghana defender Lee Addy's rather premature pronouncement of being '99 percent' sure of making the country’s squad for the 2014 Fifa World Cup (even after nearly two years' absence from the national team) in mind, Goal profiles five players whose certainty of being included in coach Kwesi Appiah’s plans for the summer could be just as absolute for one reason or the other, bar any yet unforeseen impediments.
FATAU DAUDA – Orlando Pirates
Much has been said about just how unsuitable an option first-choice Ghana goalkeeper Fatau Dauda would be at the World Cup should he remain unable to find regular playtime at South African outfit Orlando Pirates. Scratch such talk, though; it remains nothing but noise. Dauda, at least for guiding Ghana each step of the way en route to qualifying for Brazil, is quite a safe bet to claim one of the three goalkeeping slots in Appiah's 23-man squad. Of course, whether or not Dauda would start at the Mundial for the Black Stars isn't a given, largely due to the unfavourable circumstances he currently endures at club level.
ASAMOAH GYAN – Al Ain
When coach Appiah mentioned earlier this week that he had the names of 20 or so players penned down (the untouchables) as he seeks to draft his final list of picks, one could easily have guessed striker Asamoah Gyan would have been the first on his mind. Gyan, for as long as can be recalled, has been the Stars' primary go-to man for goals.
Gyan is Africa's second highest goalscorer in World Cup history - just a strike behind Cameroon legend Roger Milla - and would simply be a sine qua non if the country is to attain the desired level of success. Like it or not, the 'Baby Jet' would be flying to Brazil come June.
MICHAEL ESSIEN – AC Milan
Really, just why would an in-form Michael Essien be excluded from Ghana's World Cup ensemble? Essien missed his country's last global outing due to injury - he did prove quite quintessential in the first, though, back in 2006 - but, having been nursed back to optimum form and fitness, the 'Bison' would surely be among the first to pack up for Brazil on coach Appiah's orders. A recent move to Italian giants AC Milan should keep him fresh and ready enough till then.
KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG – Schalke 04
Let's face it, folks: KPB is not one to miss out on a World Cup party, is he? The first time he featured for Ghana - after switching allegiance from Germany, his land of birth - the west Africans were due for one.
A two-year self-imposed exile followed shortly thereafter, with the Schalke 04 star only returning when a second successive World Cup pass had been all but secured. Now he is back, though, it appears nothing, short of an admittedly huge dose of widespread public ill will, could possibly stop him from making the trip.
ANDRE AYEW – Olympique Marseille
Andre Ayew, the crown prince of a family that has earned fame and fortune with their feet, does qualify as Ghanaian footballing royalty. That is not why this writer believes he has an assured berth with his country for the 2014 World Cup, though. To his greater credit, Ayew is a bloody talented footballer, the pearl of Olympique Marseille's current setup, a Black Stars staple for the last few years, and certainly one of the national team's most committed players.
Indeed, so good and widely adored is 'Dede' that the Ghanaian president personally pleaded with him [along with his younger sibling, Jordan, also a footballer] to rescind a decision to retire prematurely taken sometime last year.