The fourth edition of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in weeks to come as eight nations compete for the ultimate prize with three slots for the Olympic Games at stake as well.
Ghana, represented by the Black Meteors are equally eying those prizes having secured qualification with an impressive 2-1 aggregate win over Algeria a couple of months ago.
The coach of the team, Ibrahim Tanko has already named a 22-man squad [only local-based players] who have already begun camping at the Ghanaman Soccer Centre of Excellence in Prampram and is expected to name more which would most likely include the foreign-based players as well as Black Stars players who are eligible in terms of age. Thus players born on or after January 1, 2001.
Here are the five Black Stars players who could feature for the Ghana U-23 side which are seeking to make it to the Olympic games after missing the previous four editions.
Despite not playing in the top flight of the German Bundesliga, Königsdörffer has been a key player for Hamburger SV in the second tier scoring ten goals in all competitions.
The winger was first invited to the Black Stars in September 2022 and featured as a late substitute for Ghana against Nicaragua in an international friendly. Having missed the 2022 World Cup he returned to the Black Stars squad but didn’t feature for the team in their recent qualifiers.
However, he has expressed interest in joining the Black Meteors and given his input at the club level and age, he could be targeted by Tanko and his technical team.
Known for his pace and dribbling abilities, Sulemana could be a great addition to the Black Meteors squad. He could be an alternative to the promising Ernest Nuamah on the flanks.
Sulemana has been with the Black Stars in recent times and has played a number of times giving the impression of another future star. Unfortunately, his team Southampton relegated from the English Premier League, and he could use this tournament as a recovery platform to bounce back.
Daniel Afryie Barnieh
Despite joining the Black Stars for the 2022 World Cup, the former Hearts of Oak player was not called into the senior national team’s recent squad for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers. However, Barnieh is one of the few players who have featured in almost all the national teams including the Black Galaxies.
He was actively involved in the team’s qualifiers and would most likely be one of the first names on the final list.
Just like his recent show in the final round of qualifiers against Algeria, Issahaku is definitely touted as the marksman for Ibrahim Tanko’s men.
Issahaku’s impact has not really been felt by the Black Stars like the youth sides he featured for and that is good news in disguise to the Black Meteors. The Sporting CP youngster will leverage his powerful left foot once more to spearhead the team in attack.
He could be only 19 but one the many others would look up to.
The only stumbling block for the former AS Roma man would be his earlier excuse of ‘not ready to play’ as he is considered a prodigy for Ghana.
Unlike at the beginning of the season, he has won a few more minutes under Davide Ballardini in the second half of the Italian Serie A and could have found his confidence to play for the national team again.
The youngster’s presence will undoubtedly be needed if the team’s last two games were anything to go by. A goalscorer to complete the good-looking Ghana U-23 side could just be Afena-Gyan.
Due to the fact that he plies his trade in the Ghana Premier League for Asante Kotoko, Danlad leads the local-based side that were invited and remains the main contender to keep the post for the team.
He has played in all the youth national teams which is why his experienced is unmatched as far as the squad is concerned.
His stint with the Black Stars might have even taught him more which would enable the effectiveness of his wonderful reflexes.