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Sports News of Monday, 12 October 2015


5 Black Stars with a point to prove vs. Canada

Phil Ofosu-Ayeh Phil Ofosu-Ayeh

With each passing day, the fight to be called a Black Star keeps getting harder and harder, and as Ghana play Canada in an international friendly on Tuesday, it’s another occasion to fight it all over again.

Competition in the Black Stars squad is as fierce as ever, and Avram Grant has no shortage of options across the park.

Here are five players who will be hoping to make a major statement at the RFK Stadium, Washington DC.

Gideon Baah

Gideon Baah’s call-up has been a long time coming.

While the 24-year-old may have heaved a huge sigh of relief upon that all-important call from Avram Grant, he has a major challenge ahead of him to secure a first-team spot, or even a regular spot in the squad.

Calls for Baah’s inclusion reached their peak following a run of good form for HJK Helsinki in the Europa League last season. However, with Jeffery Schlupp and Abdul Rahman Baba in the form of their lives, the left-back may have to fall on his versatility, one which could equally see him fit in well in central defence, to get himself into Grant’s good books.

Phil Ofosu-Ayeh

On several grounds, Phil Ofosu-Ayeh, 24, may count himself a very lucky guy.

While he may not have been called should Grant have had his players of preference, the German-born defender comes in at a time when the Black Stars are without a substantive back-up to Harrison Afful at right-back.

Daniel Opare is yet to feature for the Black Stars since the 2014 World Cup, while makeshift full-back Daniel Amartey is not as comfortable at the role as he is in central defence or at the base of the midfield. Thus, there’s everything to play for, and good outing vs. Canada could help the Eintracht Braunschweig man establish himself as a valuable squad member.

Kwadwo Poku

Like Ofosu-Ayeh, Poku’s call up may have been due to Grant’s frustrations in getting his usual suspects.

However, unlike the Braunschweig man, he doesn’t look like earning a recall any time soon but for an extraordinary showing on Tuesday. For any new player seeking a regular place in the Black Stars, midfield is the hardest nut to crack. Ghana are well-stocked in this department, and it’s unlikely that Grant will make any permanent changes to the ‘usual suspects’ in the near future.

Only an outstanding performance by the 23-year-old New York City FC man could force the manager’s hand.

Alfred Duncan

The Sassuolo man, 22, has had a decent campaign in Serie A this season with six starts in seven appearances. However, despite Duncan’s encouraging showings, competition is fierce in the heart of the midfield, with Grant able to turn to a plethora of mobile, dynamic midfielders.

Kwadwo Asamoah’s imminent return does little to help this, with opportunities expected to be limited.

The former Inter Milan man made his senior Ghana debut in November 2012 against Cape Verde, but has been in the wilderness ever since. A good outing is necessary if he stands any chance of returning to the team in November.

Lloyd Sam

The New York Red Bulls man largely falls in the same category as Ofosu-Ayeh and Poku in the nature of their call-ups, but like the former, his situation is not as dire.

Granted, the English-born winger is 31, an unlikely age to start an international career, but Sam still retains his pace, and an ability to contribute goals from midfield could make the New York Red Bulls man a valuable contributor.

The wideman has scored 10 goals and contributed four assists in 28 outings in Major League Soccer this season.