Veteran Ghanaian coach JE Sarpong has encouraged the Black Stars technical leadership to call up just the country’s best available players for next month’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers play-off double-legged tie against the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Ghana will face their adversary in a battle for a place to the global showcase in Qatar later this year, in what will be a rekindling of one of Africa’s deadliest rivalries.
On their way to the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea, the two teams met in a World Cup qualifier, with the Super Eagles coming out on top.
“A Ghana versus Nigeria game is just like [the domestic rivalry clash of] Hearts of Oak versus Asante Kotoko,” Sarpong told Oyerepa FM on Ghana, who could be calling on Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu and Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew.
“We need to approach the match with all the best material available.
“Players playing in top leagues with good form should be those invited for the two-leg tie. No agency call-ups.”
Ghana are due to host the opening leg in Cape Coast on March 25 and travel out for the second match in Abuja four days later.
The Black Stars are looking for a return to the World Cup after missing out on the 2018 gathering in Russia.
Their terrible performance in the previous Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where they departed the tournament at the group stage, has, however, created a few concerns ahead of the next battle.
However, Frederick Acheampong, a member of the Ghana Football Association’s executive council, is unconcerned.
“We are playing Nigeria which will not come easy but I am confident of the chances of the Black Stars,” said the former Ashanti Gold executive.
“In 2006, the Black Stars exited the AFCON at the group phase but went to the World Cup in Germany and made Ghana and Africa proud.
“The team did not perform in Cameroon but I am confident the Black Stars will beat Nigeria and qualify for the World Cup. I am confident the team will make an impact in Qatar.”