The national boss reflects on Sunday’s victory over Sao Tome and Principe in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers
Ghana coach CK Akonnor has stated they are going to be measured in bringing new players into the team as the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and Africa Cup of Nations tournament beckons.
The Black Stars completed their qualification campaign for the continental championship on a fine note on Sunday, beating Sao Tome 3-1 in Accra to finish top of the table in Group C ahead of Sudan, South Africa and the matchday opponents.
Amiens centre-back Nicholas Opoku and Chelsea loanee Abdul Rahman Baba scored their debut goals for Ghana on the day while Jordan Ayew also netted from the spot.
“There was also a possibility for us to see some other players which we did today, which has given me a fair idea, going forward with the World Cup qualifiers,” Akonnor said after the game.
“The plan [for] is what we started today. We were in the position of already qualifying so we had the chance to try some of the new guys. And don’t forget before Afcon, there’s a World Cup qualifier, so preparations start from today.
“After I got the job, I’ve had the chance of trying a lot of players and today was probably exceptional. We’ve had the chance of also giving the locals the chance to prove themselves and I think in all fairness, they’ve done well.”
“From now onwards, it’s not going to be about trials again. We’re not going to be picking players from somewhere unless there’s something dramatic, for which we’ll need to do that. The chunk of players that we have, I think it’s fair to say that we can work hard with them and try to change the attitude of the team, have a better philosophy and move forward.”
Four players made their debut in the penultimate matchday 1-1 draw with South Africa on Thursday and four more players played for the Black Stars for the first time on Sunday. Of this, five in all ply their trade in the domestic league.
“They [players] have all done well, done their bit. Don’t forget some were called, some were dropped, not necessarily that they were bad of course. Maybe they don’t fit into the things we want to do,” Akonnor added.
“I’m not here to make the assessment of 20 or 30 per cent. They have all done well. But again, going forward, we will all look at them and see what we can do to improve the team. Since I got the job, I said I was going to give the locals a chance.
“When was the last time you saw a lot of locals in the squad? We are moving from one end into another, and I think today and in the last match against South Africa, we saw a lot of them and that’s hopeful. It’s also up to them to do well and improve because we’re looking for the best.”
With the Afcon qualification now done and dusted, Ghana’s immediate attention turns to the World Cup qualifiers which starts in June, seven months before the Afcon final tournament in Cameroon.
Ghana and South Africa are interestingly in the same group again for the World Cup qualifiers.