Stars Squad For Gabon-Eq Guinea - Olele Out, Baffour In
Local football's new striking sensation Emmanuel Baffour has made a surprise entry onto a provisional 25-man Black Stars list, joining the Ayew Brothers, Andre and Dede, in a team yearning to win Ghana's fifth continental triumph at Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012.
Also on the list are locally-based goalkeepers Daniel Adjei and Ernest Sowah who will deputise for Norway-based first choice, Adams Kwarasey.
Conspicuously missing from the list is ageless goalkeeper Richard Kingson, the hero of Ghana's World Cup campaign in South Africa 2010 who was seeking a sixth Nations Cup appearance, while midfield powerhouse Michael Essien's omission was a natural consequence of his long absence from the pitch due to his knee injury.
Former Blackpool, Wigan and Birmingham goalkeeper Kingson, aka Olele, is a victim of his present circumstances, having been without a club since the start of the new season as demanded by the Stars' current technical handlers as a requirement for selection.
In the case of Essien, he has been undone by his injury once again, two years after another injury ruled him out of the tournament in Angola after just the first game.
In a list dominated by familiar faces, it was the presence of Massawudu Alhassan of Genoa in Italy that seemed a curious inclusion when Black Stars Manager, Goran Stevanovic, announced the team at a news conference in Accra Thursday.
Left back Alhasan who has hardly made an appearance for his club side in the season has been preferred in the stead of experienced compatriot Harrison Afful who is playing at the ongoing FIFA World Club Championship in Japan.
Afful fetched the match winner for Esperance of Tunisia when they won the CAF Champions League trophy this year, but still failed to make a re-entry into the team he played for more than two years ago.
For Sowah, his inclusion is a just reward for his consistency and patience, having been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the local league, while Adjei appears to be still enjoying the ripple effect of Ghana's triumph at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009.
By his credentials as leading scorer in the ongoing Glo Premier League, Baffour survived competition from fellow local boy, Emmanuel Clottey of Berekum Chelsea, in the struggle to make the team.
Out of the 25 players expected to move to camp at the Royal Bafokeng facility in Rustenburg in South Africa after Christmas, two will be dropped before the squad heads for the January 21-February 12, 2012 tournament where Ghana will play Botyswana, Mali and Guinea in Group D.
Goalkeepers: Adam Kwarasey (Strongodset, Norway), Daniel Agyei (Liberty Professionals), Ernest Sowah (Berekum Chelsea).
Defenders: John Painstil (Leicester, England), Samuel Inkoom (Dnipro, Ukraine), Daniel Opare (Standard Leige, Belgium), Massawudu Alhassan (Genoa, Italy), Lee Addy (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim, Germany), Jonathan Mensah (Evian Thonon Gallard), John Mensah (Lyon, France), John Boye (Rennes, France.
Midfielders: Derek Boateng (Dnipro, Ukraine), Anthony Annan (Vitesse Anheim, Holland), Jordan Ayew (Marseille, France), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu (Udinese, Italy), Abu Mohammed (Strongodset, Norway), Dede Ayew (Marseille, France), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan), Charles Takyi (St Pauli, Germany), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese, Italy).
Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, Saudi Arabia), Prince Tagoe (Bursaspor, Turkey), Derek Asamoah (Pohang Steelers, Korea), Emmanuel Baffour (New Edubiase).