Why C.K. Akonnor ignored Asamoah, Salisu from latest squad

Ghana boss CK Akonnor reveals he is still in talks with Real Valladolid youngster Mohammed Salisu who was surprisingly missing from the coach’s first Ghana squad unveiled on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old defender was among the shocking absentees as the four-time African champions announced a 23-man squad for a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying double-header against Sudan later this month.

Salisu earned a first Ghana call-up for Afcon qualifying games against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe last November but pulled out of the squad due to injury.

He has been touted among the revelations of the Spanish La Liga season, his fine performances having reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.

“With Salisu, I tried to get into contact with him, that didn’t work,” Akonnor said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“The last time we played South Africa [and Sao Tome and Principe] he was invited [but] he didn’t come. I’m still in contact with him trying to find out his reasons.”

Akonnor also spoke on Inter Milan left-back kwadwo Asamoah who is also absent from the Ghana squad.

“With Kwadwo, he was injured. He just got back on his feet and hopefully, he will start playing and stay without injury. He’s an important player but all these guys, sometimes, it’s important that they show the interest of coming to play. He’s part of the plan but I want to give him the chance to get fit, then we’ll invite him.”

Ghana host Sudan for the first-leg tie on March 27, three days before the reverse fixture in Omdurman.

“John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison [Aful] and the rest, I respect them. I have been a player before and I know what they’ve done for this country. If the need be for them is to come into the team, they will. I don’t want to change things too much from the squad that played the last time. This is my first [squad]. Others like Amartey, they are all important. Their time will come,” Akonnor said on some other major absentees.

“The last time I checked, Asamoah Gyan hasn’t retired. He still remains the general captain. I consider him part of the team. With Kevin-Prince Boateng, we spoke. He wants to come but I don’t think so. I don’t think he wants to come and play.”

There was also a word on St. Gallen goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi, who has not made the Ghana squad since Afcon 2019 in Egypt, and China-based Frank Acheampong, who has been in international wilderness since 2017.

“We’ve considered him [Zigi] to be part of the squad but the last time we played, we had Razak Abalora and Felix Annan [supporting No.1 Richard Ofori]. Now Felix is [also] out,” Akonnor explained.

“It’s all about continuity from the previous match. But he [Zigi] is being considered. He’s part of our data and we’ll look at him again.

“With Acheampong, we’ve had a bit of a discussion over him. He’s also in the data where we have over 40 players.

“We also have to understand we cannot invite everybody [at the same time]. These are key guys we will look at and invite them [in future].”

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