Ghana head coach Avram Grant announced his final 23-man squad on Wednesday night to signal his readiness for 2015 AFCON tournament but general expectations are low back home.
While majority of Ghanaian fans are not expecting the team to flourish on their return to Equatorial Guinea for a continental tournament under three years, there players who are expected to fine at the tournament.
GHANAsoccernet.com’s Akyereko Frimpong Manson picks five players who are sure bets to shine at the tournament which starts next weekend.
SOLOMON ASANTE – TP Mazembe
Ghana’s own version of Lionel Messi – the little flea. Sometimes people just wonder shy he is still playing on the shores of Africa as his massive could permit him to go anywhere. Asante’s 173 cm height is rather an asset to him added to his qualities on the ball. He is the only player in the current Ghana squad for the AFCON tournament who could put defenders under perpetual pressure with his nimble-footed techniques. At one of Ghana’s training sessions in Ghana before they left for Spain, Asante scored a goal that got top Ghana FA officials and head coach Avram Grant drooling. Note that he benched Everton’s Christian Atsu during the qualifiers due to his top form in games. In DR Congo, he is affectionately called Le Diable to somehow elaborate his cruelty to defenders on the flanks. He’s 24 and this is going to be his second AFCON tournament.
BABA RAHMAN – Augsburg
This would be a tournament of truth for Baba Rahman. Perhaps the Augsburg man needs a bitter international platform like the AFCON to further advertise his qualities to the world. It is quite obvious that his form has contributed to the axing of the very experienced Samuel Inkoom. Baba, who is a product of Dreams FC in Ghana is not only good defensively but surging forward, he could be one of the most poisonous predators to defenders at the tournament. The youngster, 20, graces his glistening style of play with some electrifying pace and vision. He was part of the Ghana U20 squad that won bronze at the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup. In the German Bundesliga, he is highly-rated and if not the best youngster, he’s the second best and one of the best around Europe at his age. Note him down to shine.
ANDRE AYEW – Olympique Marseille
After playing his debut AFCON tournament as far back as 2008, the son of African football legend – Abedi Ayew, has shown enough class and quality in his two World Cup tournaments and the three AFCON tournaments he has played in. Andre is a real steamroller and on good days could carry the entire team his broad shoulders. Andre is a spirited performer on the pitch and highlights his qualities with his tenacious and resilience on the ball. Andre is regarded as the next Ghana captain after Asamoah Gyan due to his cohesive abilities.
ASAMOAH GYAN – Al Ain
Rated fourth best striker worldwide. Gyan is a real goal devil and is feared not only for his qualities as an attacker but his insane conversion rate. Gyan is also known to be a strong character. He is currently Ghana’s top-scorer of all-time. At Al Ain he is nearing a double century goal record. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup, retired world-class players who earned their names as famous scorers including Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy was surprised to hear Gyan still plays in the Arabian Peninsula. Gyan has scored 45 international goals for Ghana, just a goal below Wayne Rooney who is considered an English legend. It is also a fact that he has more FIFA World Cup goals has most of the world’s acclaimed strikers. And, Oh! Gyan has scored more goals than any other African footballer at the FIFA World Cup, breaking Roger Milla’s decades old record in Brazil.
EMMANUEL AGYEMANG-BADU – Udinese
Powerful midfielder! The Udinese man is a tournament player and his experience with the team is in the fact that despite being just 24, he has played in every single AFCON tournament since Angola 2010 which Ghana were losing finalist to Egypt, winning silver. Badu is noted for his workaholic displays in midfield and is referred to as nika-nika, a local Ghanaian name for the corn mill machine. Opposition goalkeepers and defenders must well start devising strategies from preventing him from his seemingly unstoppable belters – like the won that earned him a nomination for the FIFA Puskas Award in 2012 – it is also worth noting that thunderous goal was scored at an AFCON tournament against Guinea. The technique is well known to him and he could unleash it his discretion.