The wild speculation over who would comprise the three senior players for the Black Meteors at the Athens Olympics was finally put to rest when Juventus midfielder, Stephen Appiah, and sensational William Tiero of Kumasi Asante Kotoko were named among a list of 27 players expected to leave for Portugal on Sunday for a training tour. The two are above the 23 and under barrier, but still qualify for the Olympiad, as required by the FIFA regulations governing the Olympic soccer tournament. The place for the third player was left open by Coach Mariano Barreto who released the list before leaving Accra last Tuesady evening for his native Portugal to prepare the grounds for the team's one-month stay. However, the Black Stars skipper who has since returned to Italy for the off-season preparations with Juventus will join the Meteors in Portugal at a later date as is the case with some other foreign-based players. Following his influential role in the current success story of the Black Stars in the ongoing Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers, Appiah could be handed the mandate to lead the Meteors to Athens, though skipper Yusif Chibsah is still part of the team. Dramatically, first choice goalkeeper, George Owu, has recovered from his career-threatening injury, well in time to merit selection as one of the three goalies who have been chosen for the tournament. The two others are his Kotoko team mate, Mohammed Alhassan, and Isaac Amoako of Ashantigold. The defenders are John Mensah, Emmanuel Pappoe, John Paintsil, Patrick Villars, Saliu Muntari and Dan Coleman. The midfielders comprise Michael Essien, Sule Muntari, Abubakar Yahuza, Yusif Chibsah, Stephen Appiah, William Tiero, Razak Ibrahim, Charles Taylor, Lamine Nasir, Anthony Obodai and Derrick Boateng. The selected marksmen are Isaac Boakye, Ishmael Addo, Razak Pimpong, Kwadwo Poku, Asamoah Gyan and Shaibu Yakubu. The solid nature of the squad leaves Coach Barreto with the challenge of selecting the best 20 out of the total number for the summer Games slated for August 13 to 29. While in Portugal, the Meteors will engage in friendlies with some indigenous teams in their build-up to the Olympics. The training tour is expected to be crowned with a four-cornered tournament involving the Meteors, Benfica, Paris St. Germain and European Champions League holders, FC Porto, between August 7and 10. The Ghanaian team is scheduled to leave for Athens on August 11.
Meanwhile, Abubakar Yahuza who is in the process of joining a Danish division one side, will leave Portugal in the course of the tour for Denmark for a three-day familiarisation visit leading to his eventual signing.
King Faisal Chief Executive, Mr George Amoako, confirmed the deal in an interview with the Grapihic Sports last Tuesday but stopped short of either naming the club or giving details about the offer. Full squad Goalkeepers: George Owu, Mohammed Alhassan,( all of Asante Kotoko) and Isaac Amoako(Ashantigold). Defenders: John Mensah( Chievo, Italy) Emmanuel Pappoe (Moadon Sport Ashdod, Israel), John Paintsil (Maccabi Tel Aviv ), Patrick Villars (SK Bucheon,South Korea) Saliu Muntari (Sekondi Hasaacas) and Dan Coleman (Hearts of Oak). Midfielders: Michael Essien (Olympique Lyon), Sule Muntari(Udinese,Italy) Abubakar Yahuza,(King Faisal), Yusif Chibsah(Asante Kotoko), Stephen Appiah( Juventus, Italy) William Tiero (Asante Kotoko), Razak Ibrahim (Empoli,Italy) Charles Taylor(Asante Kotoko) Lamine Nasir(AshantiGold), Anthony Obodai(Ajax, Holland) and Derrick Boateng(AIK Stockholm, Sweeden). Strikers: Isaac Boakye(Amernia Bielfield, Germany), Ishmael Addo(Mecabi Tel Aviv, Israel), Razak Pimpong (Midtjyland, Denmark), Kwadwo Poku (Midtjyland,Denmark) Asamoah Gyan (Udinese, Italy) and Shaibu Yakubu(AshantiGold)