Italy-based striker Felix Afena-Gyan has declined an invitation to join the Ghana U-23 team for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria this month.
This decision stems from his dissatisfaction with being left out of the Ghana squad for the World Cup in Qatar, despite playing an important role in their qualification, according to several reports.
During the final qualifying round that saw the Black Stars edge Nigeria to secure their place in Qatar, Afena-Gyan featured in both legs of the matches. However, his form leading up to the tournament was not impressive as he had struggled to find his footing after moving from AS Roma to Cremonese. Nonetheless, he remained optimistic of being included in the squad.
After being excluded from the World Cup squad, the 20-year-old striker has now rejected a call-up to the Black Meteors, who are currently seeking to qualify for the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, which offers a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Ghana’s men’s football team was the first African team to win an Olympic medal, securing bronze in Barcelona 1992. However, they have not appeared at the Olympic Games since Athens 2004, where players like Asamoah Gyan, Stephen Appiah, John Mensah, and John Paintsil were involved.
The Black Meteors face Algeria in the final qualifying round for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco. The team is eager to return to the Olympic Games, and the handlers of the team are inviting players with Black Stars experience, such as Fatawu Issahaku, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, and goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim.
Afena-Gyan’s decision to turn down the call-up has generated mixed reactions, with some criticising him and others understanding that he was unfairly treated due to his contribution to the Black Stars’ successful qualification for the World Cup.
The first leg of the match between Ghana and Algeria will take place in Algiers on March 24, followed by the second leg at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on March 28.