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Black Stars announce World Cup squad: Can Ghana dream of glory?

Ghana have held off announcing their World Cup squad with most nations having announced their teams already but today they’ve dropped the 26 names that they’re hoping will carry them to World Cup glory, which is something no African country have never done before. Here we take a look at who has made the cut.

Are keeper concerns warranted?

Between the sticks is arguably the weak spot in Ghana’s side. St Gallen’s Lawrence Ati Zigi is the number one keeper but his experience on the international scene is limited with just 10 caps to his name. Backing him up is the uncapped Danlad Ibrahim, a 19-year-old who plays his club football in his homeland, and likely number two goalie Manaf Nurudeen; he’s only made two appearances with his debut coming less than 12 months ago.

Manaf Nurudeen, Danlad Ibrahim, Lawrence Ati Zigi

A Premier League heavy defence gives a strong base to build from

If the goalkeeper situation is one of slight concern for the Black Stars, head coach Otto Addo might take some comfort from the defenders available to him. Southampton centre back Mohamed Salisu is one of the first names on the team sheet for Addo. Fellow Premier League player Daniel Amartey – of Leicester – is likely to be alongside him with Tariq Lamptey, who has previously been linked with an England call up, expected to feature on the right hand side.

The left back position is a tougher one to call. Gideon Mensah, who plays in Ligue 1 for Auxerre, and Abdul-Rahman Baba are the two natural natural left backs in the squad. One of those is most likely to get the nod to start – probably the latter owing to the fact he’s played the most football out of the pair this season.

There could be discussions about shoehorning a more natural defender into the team though. Denis Odoi has starred for Club Brugge – the Champions League surprise package – whilst he’d also bring good experience to an otherwise relatively young backline. Joseph Aidoo, Alex Dijku and Alidu Seidu are two others who have been consistently playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues in Ligue 1 and La Liga respectively.

Denis Odoi, Tariq Lamptey, Alidu Seidu, Daniel Amartey, Joseph Aidoo, Alex Dijku, Mohammed Salisu, Abdul-Rahman Baba, Gideon Mensah

The midfield could be Ghana’s golden ticket to the knockout stages

In midfield Ghana are likely to play with a double pivot to facilitate their transitions from defence. It’s an area that could be a real strength for them too. Thomas Partey of Arsenal is the headline name but don’t underestimate the quality of Salid Abdul Samed will bring. Samed has arguably been the best player for Lens in Ligue 1 this season, which is no mean feat.

Thomas Partey could be a gamechanger for Ghana.

It’s not just those two players though. Mohammed Kudus is a real talent in midfield too. He’s been tearing things up for Ajax this season – including in the Champions League where he ended the group stage with four goals and two assists. Will Addo find a way to get all three in his XI or will they be used in rotation to ensure players like Partey avoid breaking down. Elisha Owusu and Daniel Kofu-Kyereh complete the midfield selections.

Thomas Partey, Elisha Owusu, Salid Abdul Samed, Mohammed Kudus, Daniel Kofu Kyereh

Experience and youth combine for a strong front line

At the sharp end of the pitch the Black Stars have got a real mix of quality and experience. Only the Ayew brothers, Jordan, who plays for Crystal Palace in England’s top flight, and Andre, who will be in fairly familiar surroundings during the World Cup as he plays his club football in the Qatar Stars League for Al Sadd, have represented Ghana on the grandest stage of them all having featured in the 2014 and, for Andre, 2010 as well.

The real gem in the crown for Ghana though is former Spain international Inaki Williams. Williams, who switched allegiance to Ghana earlier this year, has six La Liga goal contributions from 15 games this season for Athletic Bilbao and will be leading the line.

On top of those three, who are all pretty experienced at the top level, there is also a splattering of young potential in the Black Stars attack. Antoine Semenyo, 22, is someone who will likely play backup to Williams with Kamaldeen Sulemana, 20, Kamal Sowah, 22, Osman Bukari,23, and Issahaku Fatawu, 18, of Sporting all offering options in those wide attacking areas. Daniel Afriyie, another young winger at just 21 years of age, is the wildcard selection as just one of two players who play their club football in Ghana. There is no place for the previously linked Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Daniel Barnieh Afriyie, Kamal Sowah, Issahaku Fatawu, Osman Bukari, Inaki Williams, Antoine Semenyo, Jordan Ayew, Andrew Ayew, Kamaldeen Sulemana 

There you have it, the Ghana World Cup squad in all it’s glory.

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