Six Key Starlets Dropped
A 20-man Black Starlets' squad zoomed into Peru from Brazil last Sunday without six players who were key in the team's silver-winning feat at the African Championship held in The Gambia last May.
The six players who failed to make it to the World Championship, alongside four others, are Hearts of Lions' Jerry Akaminko who was a pillar of strength in the Starlets defence in The Gambia and Hasaacas' Michael Addo who became the first choice goalkeeper in The Gambia.
The others are Emmanuel Osei Banahene (Top Allies), Kennedy Korli (Bofoakwa), Solomon Addy (Sportnet) Peter Essien (Hasaacas) Samuel Inkoom (Winneba Academy), Ofori Nyarko (Liberty), Noah Martey (Secaps) and Ghandi Kassemu Liberty).
The 10 players were expected home yesterday. But even before their return, Akaminko and Korli have been drafted into the national U-20 team which is to participate in a four-nation WAFU/ECOWAS youth tournament slated for the Ohene Djan Stadium from Thursday to Saturday.
The young talents who passed the final test to exhibit the nation's brand of soccer, not only to the 27 million Peruvian population, but the rest of the world, include Ernest Sowah (Soccer Mercenaries), Emmanuel Adjetey (Ashantigold), Abdul Razak Salifu (Midtjylland), James Tagoe (Chance For Children)and Ernest Danso (Nania FC).
Others are David Telfer (Ashantigold), Mubarak Wakasu (Ashantigold), Opoku Agyemang (Ashantigold), Sadat Bukari (Hearts of Lions) and Jonathan Quartey (Hearts of Lions).
The rest are Emmanuel Ansong (Olympics), Francis Sogbey (International Allies), Anthony Adarkwa (Nungua United), Awudu Abubakar (State Envoys), Seth Obodai (Winneba Academy), Charles Boateng (Nania FC), George Appiah (Liberty Professionals), Nana Bonsu (Zaytuna), Ernest Asante (Feyenoord) and Samad Oppong, a late addition.
Coach David Duncan's team displayed their new-found form during a two week pre-tournament training tour of Brazil, scoring eight goals in three games while conceding three against the youth teams of Juventud, Corinthians and Fluminense.
And as the Starlets take Trujillo (city of eternal spring) by storm on Friday, the 750,000 inhabitants of this principal urban centre of northern Peru will have the advantage of witnessing first hand the stuff of the two-time world champions.
Ironically, the Ghanaians, with their pedigree at this level face a side which has yet to taste the World Cup. But that might not be enough to guarantee the Ghanaians an easy walkover since they will be playing against opponents who will have the home fans playing the role of a 12th player in this crucial Group A opener at the 25,000 capacity Manische Stadium.
It is an open secret that playing a host nation in an opening match can be a harrowing experience. But that cannot deter the Starlets from ensuring a smooth take-off.
So far, the team parades a good blend of players who featured in the African Championship and others who were recruited after the African event.
What is even more refreshing for the Starlets is the manner in which top marksman, Opoku Agyemang, has maintained his scoring form after emerging joint top scorer in The Gambia with four goals.
The young striker who ranks among the players to watch in Peru was again on target four times in three games during their tour of Brazil, while the remaining goals were shared among Sadat Bukari (2), Awudu Abubakar(1), Samad Oppong (1).
After Friday's duel, the Starlets are scheduled to play Costa Rica at the same venue next Monday, while concluding their group assignment with a game against Asian champions, China, on Thursday, September 22.