Ghana, one of the five African representatives at the FIFA 2022 World Cup, look primed for an exciting tournament despite being drawn into an incredibly difficult group.
Having failed to reach the 2018 World Cup, the Black Stars, led by former international player Otto Addo, now boast a significant wealth of young talent. However, there’s been a fair few challenges along the way as well.
Addo was only appointed earlier this year after the national team made a managerial change in the wake of a disappointing showing at the Africa Cup of Nations. In a turnaround, the new boss helped lead the side to World Cup qualification just two months later, eliminating African powers Nigeria on away goals in a 1-1 aggregate playoff draw.
Now, the climb is steep as they take on Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea in the group stage in Qatar.
MORE: Ghana’s World Cup opponents: Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea
Addo has until Friday, October 21 to submit an official preliminary list of 35-55 players to FIFA, from which he will select his final 26-man roster for Qatar by Monday, November 14.
Based on World Cup qualifying squads and friendly rosters over the past year, these are the names most likely to be on the preliminary list.
Addo will look to trim his roster down to the required 26 players before the 2022 World Cup begins. He has choices to make both at the back and up front.
The September friendlies against Brazil and Nicaragua will perhaps have gone a long way towards helping make those decisions. Ghana fell to a 3-0 defeat against the South Americans, while they topped Nicaragua 1-0 four days later.
Here’s who could be potentially be on the plane, assuming all Addo’s players are fit and ready.
Ghana head coach Addo has a number of European-based players at his disposal for the 2022 World Cup, giving him a host of stars to select from.
Addo is a German-born former winger who spent time with Borussia Dortmund, Mainz, Hamburg, Hannover and Hamburg during his 16-year playing career, earning 15 caps for the national team.
He will be hoping to recapture former glories as the Black Stars look to make the knockouts for the third time in their history, after reaching the Round of 16 in 2006 and the quarterfinals in 2010.
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The biggest name in the Ghana squad is Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, who will take charge of the middle of the pitch. Partey’s presence is a big reason why the Gunners are challenging for the Premier League title this season, and he is in good form heading into the World Cup.
While not big names worldwide, the brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew are major leaders of the Ghana national team. Andre wears the captain’s armband and is one of the most-capped players at the tournament.
Ghana are very deep defensively, with a number of top players to count on. The leader is Daniel Amartey of Leicester City, who is struggling at the club level but remains a consistent presence for the national team.
Denis Odoi, cast aside by Fulham, is having a strong year at Club Brugge, with solid Champions League performances. Both Amartey and Odoi possess the flexibility to play across the backline.
French-born Alexander Dijku was used often during World Cup qualifying, but his club Strasbourg is struggling defensively in Ligue 1. Southampton’s Mohamed Salisu has only just been brought into the national team fold but is one for the future.
The attack is also deep, featuring a host of young talent. 20-year-old Kamaldeen Sulemana and 18-year-old Issahaku Fatawu are in good form at both club and country, already with double-digit national team caps at their young age. 28-year-old Inaki Williams is also doing well for his club Athletic Bilbao this year and should contribute despite inexperience at the international level.
The Ghana forward group has enough youth and talent to help the Black Stars slowly phase out the veteran Ayew brothers, who will still play a key role at this World Cup.
While Partey‘s presence in midfield gives Ghana an edge, the rest of the options behind the Arsenal man are thin.
Daniel Kofi-Kyereh is a useful player but provides little going forward, and has missed some time in the run-up to the World Cup with injuries. Mohammed Kudus is a young talent but plays sparingly for Ajax, mostly coming off the bench.
Iddrisu Baba has earned more time at Mallorca, but the club overall has struggled this season.
Ghana were drawn into a very difficult Group H for the 2022 FIFA World Cup alongside Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay. Only the top two teams in each group will advance.
That presents a very tall task for Ghana as they go up against a top European side, a top South American side and a difficult Asian squad.
The Black Stars will open against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal on November 24, before taking on South Korea four days later in a critical battle. They will then finish against Uruguay on the final day of group stage competition, hoping to have a shot to qualify for the knockout rounds.
WORLD CUP GROUP BREAKDOWNS:
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H
Once the final 26-man roster is official, participating teams at the World Cup can only make changes before the first game of the tournament, and only in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
According to the official tournament rules, “a player listed on the final list may only be replaced in the event of serious injury or illness up until 24 hours before the start of his team’s first match.”
The team in question would need to submit a medical report to FIFA and if the world governing body determines “the injury or illness is sufficiently serious to prevent the player from taking part in the FIFA World Cup” then the replacement will be allowed.
The replacement player must come from the preliminary list of players submitted to FIFA in October.