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Sports News of Friday, 25 February 2022


2022 World Cup qualifiers: Ghana urged to go for ‘big boys’ for Nigeria clashes

Black Stars will play Nigeria in March Black Stars will play Nigeria in March

Veteran Ghanaian coach JE Sarpong has urged the Black Stars technical leadership to summon only the nation's best available players for next month's 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria.

In what will be a rekindling of one of Africa's fiercest rivalries, Ghana are set to face their nemesis in a battle for a ticket to the global showpiece in Qatar later this year.

The two sides last squared off in a World Cup qualifier on the road to the 2002 gathering in Japan/Korea, with the Super Eagles coming up victorious.

"A Ghana versus Nigeria game is just like [the domestic rivalry clash of] Hearts of Oak versus Asante Kotoko," Sarpong told Oyerepa FM on Ghana, who could be calling on Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu and Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew.

“We need to approach the match with all the best material available.

"Players playing in top leagues with good form should be those invited for the two-leg tie. No agency call-ups."

Ghana are set to host the first leg in Cape Coast on March 25 and travel away for the second leg in Abuja four days later.

The Black Stars are looking for a return to the World Cup after missing out on the 2018 gathering in Russia.

Their poor performance at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where they exited the tournament at the group stage, has, however, raised a few concerns ahead of the upcoming showdown.

Ghana Football Association executive council member Frederick Acheampong, however, remains unfazed.

"We are playing Nigeria which will not come easy but I am confident of the chances of the Black Stars," said the former Ashanti Gold executive.

"In 2006, the Black Stars exited the AFCON at the group phase but went to the World Cup in Germany and made Ghana and Africa proud.

"The team did not perform in Cameroon but I am confident the Black Stars will beat Nigeria and qualify for the World Cup. I am confident the team will make an impact in Qatar.”

Ghana have qualified for the World Cup on three previous occasions, going on to reach the quarter-final of the 2010 championship in South Africa.