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Sports News of Friday, 18 September 2020


Nketiah, come and play for Ghana - Abukari Damba

Arsenal striker, Eddie Nketiah Arsenal striker, Eddie Nketiah

Former Ghana international, Abukari Damba believes that the country must look to provide security and insurances for its players to stand a good chance of attracting dual nationals in the diaspora for a possible international future with the Black Stars.

New Black Stars coach, Charles Akonnor has revealed that he is taking a leaf from the likes of Nigeria in broadening the national team’s talent pool with players of Ghanaian descent abroad.

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah and Brighton and Hove Albion defender Tariq Lamptey are among Ghana’s top targets following their breakthrough to senior club football in recent times.

“CK will want to bring all the best players so as to get results to leave a legacy but we must remember that we are dealing with specific players whose lives and individual interests also matter. If we can address our issues and address them well, the players will feel comfortable playing for Ghana,” Damba told Goal.

“But let’s be realistic, between Ghana and England, where are players taken care of better, in terms of structure? Honestly speaking, it’s England. The player will look at all these dynamics. I’m Ghanaian and will want the best players for Ghana, but we also have to be truthful to ourselves.

“But I’m hopeful that some of them will look at other factors and come to play for Ghana."

Last month, Akonnor confirmed Ghana have already made contact with Nketiah and his family for discussions. On Monday, Ghana Football Association (GFA) Executive Council member and Black Stars management committee chairman George Amoakoh revealed similar talks are ongoing with Lamptey’s team.

“He [Nketiah] will bring a lot to the Black Stars but let’s be mindful of certain things. These players are very young players and they look forward to progressing from one stage to the next stage,” Damba added.

“It is one thing playing for a national team at this time and another thing how the player wants to see himself in three, four or five years to come. They also have plans that they need to follow and these are very important.

“[If I were to advise him], I will tell him ‘Nketiah, come and play for Ghana’. Because we need to have our football back and remain competitive and to be able to do that, we need these players who have tasted football outside, they have had the best of training and have worked with the best coaches and understand football inside and outside and they will add a lot to our football which will give us results.”

Belgium youth star Francis Amuzu, former Netherlands U21 star Derrick Luckassen, current Netherlands youth striker Brian Brobbey, former France youth right-back Enoch Kwateng and France-born duo Elisha Owusu and Alexander Djiku have all been pencilled down for a possible international future with the Black Stars.

“CK’s attempt [to secure players of Ghanaian descent abroad] is laudable. It is good to cast your net very wide, but it will also come with conditions,” continued Damba.

“We need to be able to give the players the kind of protection that they need. We need to remember players will always need insurances and assurances that in a situation where the unthinkable happens – injuries can come about in the game – we will be by their side and take them through treatment and pay for it.

“The players out there know what the other countries do for them. They are guaranteed all these things when they play abroad. These are the challenges we must address to attract these boys to come and play for Ghana.

“I was once a player of the national team and have had many of my colleagues who got injured and their careers ended because of national assignments. They played for some of the big teams abroad but got their injuries through playing for the national team and their clubs were not prepared to take the burden of treating them. And what did the national team do [to help these injured players]? So when these dual nationals look at these references, they feel very scared and insecure.”

Amoakoh said reports about the use of black magic by Ghanaian players has been a setback in their dual nationals chase ambition while former Borussia Dortmund striker Ibrahim Tanko believes Ghana’s bad timing has been a factor.

Germany-born Kevin-Prince Boateng, ex-Netherlands attacker Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong made international switches to Ghana in recent times, the first two players both playing for the Black Stars at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.