The Israeli refusing to call up more than two home-based stars for Ghana’s next game isn’t an entirely unjustifiable decision
By: Sammie Frimpong
It’s perfectly reasonable to think that Ghana’s final Afcon 2017 qualifier against Rwanda early next month is no big deal.
The Black Stars have already qualified for the tournament in Gabon and, regardless of the outcome of the September 3 clash, they’d still finish Group H winners. If anyone has anything to play for, it’s the Amavubi who are in contention for the remaining ticket.
To many, then, Ghana head coach Avram Grant calling up what passes for arguably his strongest squad for said dead rubber wasn’t very necessary. This assignment seemed the perfect excuse to give footballers involved in the Ghana Premier League — usually starved of top-level international action — 90-odd minutes of bliss and, along with it, a shot at earning bonuses most of them won’t ever receive in annual wages at their impoverished clubs. But maybe Grant — much as some would hate to admit — is right and most of us wrong, if his reasons are those discussed below.
For these home-based players, call-ups to the Stars would have been a privilege at an earlier period in the league season; well, it probably would be for them, but that’s a luxury their clubs just cannot afford. Not with just four games to the end of the campaign when some sides are jostling for the title, others for survival. It’s not just their players’ optimum physical involvement which would be desired by their employers; full mental focus would be just as crucial. Needless to say, the ability to fulfil both demands would be heavily compromised by invitations to join Grant’s set-up, what with all the exertions required to impress in what would have been one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Forget not, too, the fact that Ghana’s quest to reach the 2018 Fifa World Cup gathers speed in October, when the Stars travel to Uganda for their opening Group E game, before Egypt visit a month later. The Rwanda clash, then, effectively qualifies as a preparatory outing ahead of the start of the upcoming marathon, especially when Uganda — like Ghana’s next guests — are an east African side. Grant wouldn’t have a finer chance to assess his options in a ‘competitive’ setting before the crucial assignments which follow. Besides, with the proposed mid-October friendly date versus the USA now cancelled, every minute in the build-up counts.
Hence, although the Rwanda game itself might hold little of value for the Stars, it’s hardly an occasion to experiment. And that’s why Grant shouldn’t. The local players would have their big day, though only perhaps another time — just not now