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Sports News of Thursday, 23 May 2019


2019 Africa Cup of Nations: Five Africa-based stars overlooked by Kwesi Appiah

The goalkeeper has been in great form for Enugu Rangers in the Nigerian top-flight The goalkeeper has been in great form for Enugu Rangers in the Nigerian top-flight

Ghana head coach Kwesi Appiah announced his 29-man preliminary squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Egypt in June.

The list has only one player plying his trade on the continent in first choice goalkeeper Richard Ofori who plays for Maritzburg United in South Africa.

In the 2018/2019 football season, some Ghanaian footballers playing elsewhere in Africa had a stellar campaign but none was invited by Black Stars head coach.

We look at five top African based performers who were overlooked by coach Appiah for the big tournament in Egypt next month.

These are players who have been playing and performing consistently for their clubs in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup, the topmost club football competitions in Africa.

Nana Bonsu (Enugu Rangers FC - Nigeria)

The goalkeeper has been in great form for Enugu Rangers in the Nigerian top-flight and African club competition.

He saved three penalties in the final of the Aiteo Cup (FA Cup) after his side had come from three goals down to draw.

The Cup triumph gave them the ticket to play in the 2018/2019 CAF Confederation Cup.

Bonsu's wonderful displays ensured Enugu Rangers make it to the group stages without a defeat.

Even though they failed to make it to the next round, the former Ghana U17 goalkeeper emerged the top performer of the group stages as he made 29 saves, the highest of all.

His inclusion in the 29-man provisional squad would have been worthy.

Enugu Rangers currently lead Group A of the novelty Nigerian league this season and Bonsu has been very vital.

James Agyekum Kotei (Simba SC - Tanzania)

To be nominated for the Best Midfielder of the season award at Simba SC is an indication of how influential Kotei has been this campaign.

The 25-year-old box-to-box midfielder played all matches in the 2018/2019 CAF Champions League from the preliminary round to quarter-finals, the farthest Simba SC have gone in the history of the competition.

His contribution to the team has helped the Dar es Salaam giants to retain the Tanzania Premier League with two games to spare.

He has played 29 out of the 35 league games in the season.

It is a surprise to many Tanzanian football fans as Kotei didn't make the provisional Ghana squad for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Seyei Sebe Baffour (Horoya AC - Guinea)

Sebe Baffour is one of the most consistent and reliable players at Horoya AC at the moment looking at his statistics from 2018.

He was an integral figure for the Guinean champions in the CAF Champions League last term as he played a significant role ensuring Horoya AC make it to the quarter-finals for the very first time.

Despite Horoya AC getting three coaches in the space of one year, Baffour has been a first choice in central midfield by all of the gaffers.

In the 2018/2019 CAF Champions League, the 23-year-old featured 11 of the 12 matches this campaign with his immense contribution seeing Horoya AC make it to the quarter-finals for the second successive time.

He also played a huge part of Horoya AC's league title defence this term.

Baffour is rated as one of the best central midfielders currently playing in Africa.

John Antwi (Misr El Makasa - Egypt)

With the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations being held in Egypt, every coach would have wish to have a player who knows the nitty-gritty of the Egyptian terrain.

For such a player, John Antwi is first on the list as he has been in Egypt since 2012 and has played in all of the stadiums selected for the premier African football tournament.

Antwi is the all-time top scoring foreigner in the history of the Egypt Premier League and has scored 10 or more goals in each of the last three seasons.

He has netted 11 goals in 27 games in the Egyptian top division this season.

Antwi's inclusion in the 29-man provisional list would have been essential taking into consideration his seven years stay in Egypt.

Godfred Asante (Horoya AC - Guinea)

A towering versatile defender who has been an important player for Horoya AC since the beginning of the 2018/2019 season.

He played a vital role when the Guinean champions reached the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League last campaign, the very first in the club's history.

Making it to a second successive quarter-final in the 2018/2019 CAF Champions League needed another spectacular performance from Asante.

The 28-year-old played 10 of the 12 matches for Horoya AC from the preliminary stage to the quarter-finals.

Asante's experience in the centre back role was also crucial for the Guinean giants to retain the league championship this season.

With the central defenders invited to the Black Stars for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Asante was supposed to be one of them.