Le Roy To Make Amends
Local stars who have had a call-up to the national team, but have had their roles restricted to the bench, will have the opportunity to prove themselves when they go into action this weekend.
At the Tamale Stadium this weekend, the local Black Stars begin their journey to the maiden African Cup Championship (CHAN) with their first qualifying match against Niger as the continent begins the race to the novelty championship introduced to encourage locally-based players.
Onetouch Premier League leading goal scorer, Eric Bekoe, and his Asante Kotoko team mate, Harrison Afful, as well as the other lucky 16 players to be selected from the bunch of players called to camp have an arduous task to prove their worth as good enough to be national stars.
While Afful has gradually earned the confidence of Coach Claude Le Roy by playing the entire 90 minutes in the friendly against Mexico in London last Wednesday, Bekoe made his debut also last Wednesday as a substitute. On Sunday, both are likely to get starting up roles as Afful controls the defence and and Bekoe assumes the responsibility of getting Ghana the goals needed for a good win.
But it will be a bold test of courage and trust if goalkeeper Patrick Antwi of Liberty Professionals, who looked anything but confident in the Mexican match, gets a place in the starting line -up.
Antwi who fumbled and conceded two goals against Mexico is expected to retain his substitute status as goalkeeper Fatau Dauda, who was the third goalie during CAN 2008, rejoins the team after missing the trip to London due to club duties.
On paper the Stars look the favourites, but the fact that they have had very little time to train under newly-appointed assistant coach, Kwasi Appiah, makes the task look quite tricky against a Nigerien side about whom very little is known.
However, with the vast experience Appiah has had as a former captain of the national team and assistant coach, Appiah certainly must know the preparation the team needs to get off to a good start.
Head Coach Claude Le Roy who returned from the trip to London yesterday to assume responsibility of the team also faces a major test to transform ordinary players into a winsome side, good enough to keep Ghana's status in Africa football intact.
Judging by the performance of the players during the first round of the premier league, it is easy to pick who are likely to be in the starting line-up, in addition to those who have already earned the trust of Le Roy, as names like Ekow Benson (Tema Youth), Dominic Adiyah (Hearts of Lions), and Jordan Opoku (Kotoko) have given a good account of themselves.
However, for the sake of the stakes in this match, it will be much everyone's while if Appiah is made to handle the team while Le Roy plays an advisory role for this particular game as the new assistant may have had a better idea about the strength and weaknesses of the players called to camp for this exercise.
All said and done, the driving force must be team work among both the technical team and the playing body to ensure absolute victory for the Stars and make the return leg a mere formality.
Otherwise, the trouble officials went through to make sure that Ghana was admitted into the competition after the near miss would have been in vain.
Story by Rosalind Amoh