The news of Kwesi Appiah’s return to the helm of the Black Stars may just breathe life into the international careers of some players.
There are the ones who the coach seemed to favour during his first stint.
Then there are the others whose potential he familiarized himself with during his working life spent away in Suda n during the last three years.
Appiah managed the Ghana team from April 2012 through to September 2014, and will be starting a second tenure on May 1, 2017 following an announcement by the Ghana Football Association last week.
Pulse Sports brings you a list of players who are likely to benefit from the 56-year-old’s second coming.
There were conspiracy theories, born out of frustration.
It was either “they must be related!”, “He must have settled (paid) him!”. There was even a story: the coach had benefitted from the player’s father in the past and he felt indebted to him.
Either ways, many heavily speculated on what they believed were “unexplained personal ties”, as the media once put it.
There had to be something to it. Because they just couldn’t understand.
Kwesi Appiah liked Albert Adomah so much, but most Ghanaian football fans just couldn’t see what the coach saw.
The winger was heavily criticized to be slow and uncharismatic, but Appiah didn’t mind; the London born man was a consistent fixture in the coach’s plans.
Then playing for Bristol City and then later, Middlesbrough, Adomah won nine caps for Ghana in 2013 and four in 2014 – his most active international years yet – played at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup amid claims that he was “Appiah’s boy”.
The 27-year-old currently plays for English second tier side Aston Villa.
After having seen just two caps across the two years Avram Grant was in charge of Ghana, he looks set for a return to the team now that Appiah is back, especially given his impressive form in the EFL Championship this season where he is among the top assist makers.
Waris – with five goals at French club Lorient – was one of Ghana’s most in-form strikers playing in Europe before the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), but bizarrely missed out on the flight to Gabon after being dropped from the provisional squad by Avram Grant.
Indeed, for most of Grant’s tenure, Waris struggled to place himself at the front of the line of suitors who the gaffer preferred to partner captain Asamoah Gyan in attack. There was thus a scarcity of caps for the diminutive striker.
Waris would have missed the good old days of Kwesi Appiah, under whom he burst unto the national scene in 2013.
During Ghana’s qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, the striker – then based at Russian side Spartak Moscow – became a fan-favourite and a squad regular with his sharpness in the box and eye for goal (he scored thrice in qualifying).
Appiah’s return could see the former Swedish league top scorer given more Black Stars time again.
And he would deserve it too: just last weekend, he netted his 8th goal for Lorient this season against Lyon.
2013 was Mohammed’s best international year. The youngster, who had been a part of Ghana’s Africa and World Cup winning Under 20 team in 2009, grew to become the Black Stars’ number one defensive midfielder, ever-reliable during Kwesi Appiah’s first stint in charge, excelling in the qualifiers for the World Cup as well as the Afcon in South Africa.
However, injuries in the subsequent years robbed him of consistent playing time with the national team.
Between those injury issues and Avram Grant’s own preference of Mubarak Wakaso in the holding role, appearances for Rabiu were few and far between over the last two and a half years. Mohammed was a part of Ghana’s 2015 Afcon squad but failed to feature prominently.
In April last year, he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury while with his club Kuban Krasnodar.
A year on and he is still yet to make a return to the pitch.
His fitness woes have been so bad that in February this year, he had to prematurely terminate a three and a half-year, €2.6M deal he had signed with Russian outfit FC Anzhi Makhachkala in August last year.
Although the 26-year-old is currently clubless, he is tipped to be reintegrated into the Black Stars fold as soon as he finds three things: a club, his fitness and his form.
As one of the entrenched lynch pins of the first Kwesi Appiah era, he is projected to be key in its sequel.
Sumaila shot to national attention in 2011 as the Ghana Premier League’s Best Defender while playing for Ebusua Dwarfs.
The former Asante Kotoko and Mamelodi Sundowns center back was a key part of the Ghana U-23 (Black Meteors) team that won gold at the 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
Guess who was coach of that team? Yep. Kwesi Appiah.
Appiah would go on to give Sumaila a chance with the Black Stars during qualification for the World Cup, and his performances also earned him a place in the main World Cup squad too.
Sumaila has been in international football wilderness over the last few years, finding call-ups hard to come by during the Grant era.
Now widely hailed as one of Ghana’s best-performing defenders abroad (he currently plays for Qatari club Al Gharafa), the 24-year-old is one of the players who might just rejoin the Black Stars fold with Appiah’s return, especially in the wake of an unconvincing Afcon performance from Jonathan Mensah.
In doubt? Here’s Sumaila reacting to Appiah’s return.
“He is a good coach and it’s good he is back.”
“I played under him in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and at the World Cup. He fielded me against Holland in the pre-World Cup friendly and that was my best game.”
Abdul Fatau Dauda
Fatau Dauda will never forget how Kwesi Appiah, in the run-up the the 2013 Afcon, showed immense faith in him while he was an underdog locally based goalkeeper for Ghanaian side AshantiGold.
The coach damned all the consequences and installed Dauda as the Black Stars first choice goalie, a role he would own beyond the Afcon – through the 2014 World Cup qualifiers to the tournament in Brazil itself.
The shot-stopper however had to settle for second and third choice roles over the last two and an half years of Avram Grant, albeit having issues with club football consistency.
Now 32 and playing his football for Enyimba in Nigeria, few would be surprised to see the veteran knocking on the doors of the Black Stars’ goalkeeping department soon.
Last weekend, Solomon Asante bagged an assist for his club TP Mazembe – where he has been playing for the last four years – in their CAF Confederations Cup play-off first leg victory over JS Kabylie.
That is what the former Berekum Chelsea winger does best: create goals. And he still seems to have it, after all these years.
His pace and trickery, complimented by his smallish, incredibly mobile nature, has seen him help TP Mazembe to three league titles, a CAF Champions League and a CAF Confederations Cup.
Asante, a two-time Burkina Faso league topscorer who has indeed played for the Burkinabe national team before, got his Ghana debut in May 2012 under Kwesi Appiah.
The coach went on to give him many opportunities with the side, including an opportunity to play at the 2013 Afcon.
He didn’t enjoy the same level of favour under Avram Grant, although he received a call-up for the 2015 Afcon.
The 27-year-old won only four caps under the Grant era, compared to the over 10 he won under Appiah, and he will be craving a return to the good old days now that the former boss is coming back.
When the Appiah decision was announced, Okrah – despite never having featured for the Black Stars before – seemed to be one of the players who was most excited by the news.
“Congrats to Kwesi Appiah after being named @ghanafaofficial coach until 2019,” the player tweeted.
“Your appointment means a lot to Ghanaian players in Sudan.”
Of course, it was because he saw something in it for him.
Okrah, who moved to Sudan on the back of being the Ghana Premier League’s best player and top scorer in the 2013/14 season for Bechem United, has been one of the best footballers in Sudan over the last few years.
The skillful, left footed winger has been hogging man-of-the-match praise on the regular with his explosive performances and goals, first for Al Merreikh and now for Al Hilal.
As one of the top performing Ghanaian strikers abroad, he was a surprise omission from Ghana’s Afcon 2017 roster and it is expected that with Appiah having worked in Sudan – a climate that reveres Okrah – the 23-year-old could just be given a black stars audition sooner rather than later.
Now here is another Sudan-based Ghanaian who would be fancying his chances of launching an international career off the back of Appiah’s return.
This, in fact, is one of, if not the only player Okrah was referring to when he said “Ghanaian players in Sudan”.
Interestingly, he is also a Bechem United alum. And, check this: he also plays at Al Hilal.
Abednego Tetteh managed a stellar rise to stardom in Ghana last year.
The striker was one of the Ghana Premier League’s top marksmen with Bechem United, scoring 13 goals and guiding the club to their first ever Ghana FA Cup trophy.
Those exploits landed the lanky striker a lucrative deal with Sudanese giants Al Hilal, for whom he signed a contract in November last year.
Just six months later and Tetteh is now, without doubt, the most in-form player in Sudan, commanding a cult following.
He has scored 15 goals in 13 games.
And Kwesi Appiah was there, watching and admiring all the way, before reclaiming the Ghana job.
This isn’t rocket science: Tetteh will get a chance to try out for the Black Stars soon.