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Sports Features of Sunday, 1 January 2017


Five reasons why Augustine Okrah should have made the Black Stars squad

Augustine Okrah could be the future of Ghana football. Period!

Inevitably, one day he will headline for the Black Stars. And, it is impossible that Ghana coach Avram Grant has not accepted the 23-year's convincing proof of both quality and merit for the Black Stars.

His special goals and constant aesthetically significant contribution to play makes him a potential future legend. Sudanese media say, he's a reminder of legend Abedi Pele; that's not a hasty generalisation because Okrah's left-foot is so effective.

Scoring goals alone isn't enough for a such a eulogy; his aesthetic contribution to play have been phenomenal. Judging by his exploits in Ghana and Sudan, stretching 2013 and 2016, Okrah can be labelled a perfect fit to the image of Mesut Özil, for he scores beautiful goals and delivers football of aesthetic pleasure.

Simply, Okrah is a playmaker with promising distinction. Simply, he is the best player in Sudan, right now. And simply, he's a hugely promising prospect for tomorrow's Ghana football. There's no doubt in my mind he's a quality Black Stars material awaiting his chance.

So what makes Okrah, the potential 'Special One'? In fairness, aside his raw footballing talent, he tick the 5 key boxes that makes a very good footballer.

Here are 5 convincing facts about Augustine Okrah...

1. Beautiful Goals:

Okrah's ability with respect to goalscoring, highlights both his scoring of beauties and assist of beauties to others. His goal scoring record from midfield is simply remarkable!

First, he scored a goal worthy of the FIFA Puskás Award - it's a 'rabona' goal of the highest quality. It received unprecedented rave reviews in Sudan and beyond, with part of the local media claiming it was potentially the best ever scored domestically. In the Ghana Premier League, he scored many crackers and it can be summarised that most of his goals are synonymous with individual brilliance.

Secondly, statistically, he was the most in-form of all of Ghana's players abroad as of the end of the Sudan season in November; having scored 17, assisted 11 and won 11 Man-of-the-Match awards in the 26 games he played in 2016 alone. Make no mistake thinking his primary job is to score goals; he plays from the playmaker position and alternatives to the right and left wing forward positions.

He's eulogised by millions of Sudanese football followers because his goals are usually products of half chances and/or genius play. Scoring that many goals in the quality Sudan league is some feat.

2. Beautiful football:

Okrah's creative playing ability is breathtaking. His creativity on the ball is not mine to claim, it's a proven skills set repeatedly stressed by those that see him play.

The most noteworthy thing about Okrah is not the goals he scores from midfield but, the other stuff he does with the ball - the remarkable quality of his free-kicks, dribbling, and distributions.

Okrah is a wonderful passer of the ball and, usually in a 90-minute game, sends in around 10 quality crosses, wins more fouls and dribbles a lot.

I watch +900 minutes of football every calendar week (+ being a licensed coach), so it can't be wrong that I see him as a technically and tactically gifted player with the potential to be one of the best players in the world. Not many players in Okrah's bracket can be better creative with the ball.

Okrah's quality left-foot, unarguably, makes him a top prospect! He can do anything with the ball - every Premier League club in Ghana can attest to that since he proved it in the 2013/14 season.

Okrah was once the best local-based player in Ghana, thanks partially to his scintillating displays which led some local pundits to call him ‘Ghana’s Messi’ whilst others compared him to the younger Özil.

This is a left-footed playmaker with creative skills and the ability to score goals, provide assists and win MVPs. He is very quick, versatile and a reliable free-kick taker! The emergence of Özil highlights his style and he plays effectively as an out-and-out striker in the makeshift.

Playing in the alternative wing forward and central playmaker positions last season, Okrah's contributions earned Al Mereikh the Sudanese title and a CAF competition semis berth.

Much like Özil, Okrah's football makes you feel football is truly, the 'beautiful game'...!

3. National team:

Okrah is still awaiting his chance to prove his worth for Ghana's national team. He has left a remarkable set of footprints in club football which makes his prospects for national team football even stronger.

It's impossible that the scouts of the national team have not noticed his amazing abilities and current form so it's just a matter of time before debuts for the Black Stars. Not making the AFCON 2017 squad would at best be incomprehensible!

He has not had the chance to prove it at the national team level yet but, his record predicts a positive outcome. It's that simple!

What's is certain, is that Okrah has proven his worth for the Black Stars with his beautiful goals and aesthetic displays that took Ghana's domestic league by storm in 2014 and most recently that of Sudan.

He is in sensational form, and that he said recently, was to impress the coaches of his readiness. That many goals, assists, and MVPs within 9 months is impressive even for the fierce Black Stars squad competition. I can only urge the coaches to monitor his progress.

Seemingly, should he make the Nation's Cup squad, he could emerge as one of the continent's most promising footballing prospects. That, I am 100% convinced on.

Understandably, perhaps, what we would soon hear is an admission that it's timely, expedient and appropriate to draft him into the Black Stars. He's so good, much like many, I feel he will seize a position once he gets into the team.

4. Awards:

Okrah's career has seen some top awards, nominations, and records. Take out the fact that he could be named Player of the Season in Sudan for 2016.

First and foremost, credit to the defunct Red Bull Academy for training him - he was recipient to many awards in the 5 years he spent there in his formative years.

Least reminding, that he was Player of the Season and Top Goalscorer for the 2013/14 season for both the Ghana FA and SWAG awards. That season, he contributed to 90% of all goals scored by Bechem United, won most MVPs in the league and got nomination for FA Cup's best player too.

Least reminding also that he was the second top scorer in his injury-strained 2015 season in Sudan. Least reminding too, that there were shocks to many when he was not named player of the season in Sudan last season.

The crux of the issue is that Okrah can win awards. Judging by talent, and taking out the element of bad luck, Okrah can win CAF's top award one day. He's only 23 and with 9 or 10 years to play at the highest level, anything could be possible for him.

5. Discipline:

Okrah's business is simply the business of playing football - he's both a workerholic with respect to training and a role model with respect to his general conduct.

Red cards, never! Just 5 yellow cards in the 4 years of career at the high level. That's an impressive 4-year disciplinary record.

He's naturally a quite and shy person and that reflects in his good boy behaviour on the pitch.

He is the most fouled player in the Sudanese game and probably one of the least carded - just two yellow cards in the 2 seasons in Sudan.

His agent Oliver Arthur - famous for his development of an array of quality youngsters - says Okrah is probably the coolest player he has ever worked with.

As clean as he's, he has the feature of a potential great. This trait makes him a potential football legend!

Okrah was named in the's Team of the Year.