The 1978 African champions shares his thoughts on Ghana’s set-up ahead of the tournament in Cameroon
Former Ghana sensation Mohammed Polo wants Black Stars coach CK Akonnor to build his team around Arsenal star Thomas Teye Partey, Andre and Jordan Ayew as well as Ajax attacker Mohammed Kudus ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in January next year.
Set for their 23rd appearance at the continental showpiece to be hosted by Cameroon, the Black Stars will be looking to end what will be a 40-year-wait for the title.
Their last success came in 1982 in Libya.
“He [Akonnor] has to assemble players who have the ability to conquer Africa once again to prove that the sleeping giant of African football is wide awake,” Polo, who won the Afcon title with Ghana in 1978, told Graphic Sports newspaper.
“In every tournament, coaches build their teams around some core players, so in this tournament, Akonnor should build his players around the Ayew brothers, as well as Thomas Partey and Mohammed Kudus who have proved that they could be relied upon in such tough competitions.
“Under no circumstance should Akonnor allow officialdom to interfere in his team selection because he will be the one football fans will criticise if anything goes wrong.
“[Former Ghana coach] Kwasi Appiah had that opportunity but he could not break the jinx, hence the need for Akonnor to do so at the next tournament in Cameroon when the best in Africa assemble to fight for honours.”
Akonnor, who was appointed Ghana coach in January last year as the replacement for Appiah, has been tasked to lead the Black Stars to win the continental title and as well qualify the team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Since many of our players are playing outside Ghana, Akonnor should devise a system of monitoring their performance so that he would know who is in top shape to merit invitation for the tournament,” Polo added.
“But some locals such as Gladson Awako, Abdul-Ganiyu Ismail and Razak Abalora who have proved themselves should also be offered the opportunity to be at the tournament.
“He [Akonnor] should select the best from the locals and foreign-based players and ensure that even his substitutes can turn things around to give Ghana her fifth continental trophy next year.”
At the last Afcon tournament hosted in Egypt two years ago, Ghana, under Appiah, suffered a Round of 16 elimination, which was the first time they failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition since 2006.