Ghanaian football legend Mohammed Polo has urged Black Stars coach Akonnor to build a strong team around the country’s best performing and top players in Europe the Ayew brothers, Thomas Partey, and Ajax teen sensation Mohammed Kudus ahead of the tournament in January next year.
Polo, who won the AFCON title in 1978 said the Black Stars can end its 40-year title drought with a formidable team with these key players.
“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.”
The Hearts of Oak legend also called for the players to be invited to the national team based on merit and advocated for some home-based players to be given a chance.
“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”
“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.”
The Black Stars last won the tournament in 1982 in Libya and have come close to winning the cup on three occasions in 1992, 2010 and 2015.