Ghana: Hot Chase for Black Stars
Despite failing to go beyond the one-eighth stage of the 2006 World Cup, players of the Black Stars are among those on the shopping list of some of the world's most glamorous clubs.
There is a race by these clubs to secure the signatures of the Ghanaian players, not ably John Mensah, Shilla Illiasu and John Paintsil.
Shilla Illiasu, one of Ghana's revelations at the World Cup, has entered the good books of Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger for a likely career in the English Premiership.
The two prominent managers have reportedly had separate preliminary talks with the player regarding the possibility of signing him.
The Black Stars' central defender caught the attention of agents of clubs after his wonderful display at the tournament and are hell-bent for his signature.
Another club which may be lucky to get him are Hamburg fc of the German Bundesliga who have qualified for the uefa Champions League.Sources close to the player have also spoken about approaches from France, and particularly Greece, where one of the heavyweights, Olympiakos, are believed to be swearing thunder and lightning to recruit him at any price.
"Nothing has been confirmed yet with Hamburg fc, who were being led by former Black Stars' coach, Ralf Zumdick," the source indicated.
Shilla Illiasu, who came to the World Cup perhaps thinking of playing second fiddle to the veteran Sammy Kuffour of A.S Roma shot into tournament notice from the day he came on as substitute for Emmanuel Pappoe, and then as a regular in subsequent matches in place of Kuffour.
The 23-year-old six-footed Illiasu plays for champion club Asante Kotoko to where he transfered from city rivals, King Faisal, early this year.
But the entire team has been caught in the sudden craze for Ghanaian players as already contract-tied foreign materials have been included in the chase.
Defence pillar, John Mensah, and Israel-based John Paintsil have put agents on a constant move after selling outstanding performances in the four matches Ghana played at the World Cup.
Mensah who completed a permanent move to Rennes in the French League with a three-year contract just before leaving for the World Cup has been inundated with various appeals from clubs in England and more flamboyant outfits in France and elsewhere following his outing for the Stars.
Paintsil was on the verge of being thrown out by Hapoel Tel Aviv before the World Cup, and following Belgium club, Anderlecht's huge interest in him, he is unlikely to return to Israel, from whom he earned some fans after controversially waving their flag in Ghana's 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic at the group stage.
Beside these players, the next few days will decide the direction Skipper Stephen Appiah.