World Cup play-off: ‘Delay in release of Stars squad purely strategic’

Delay in the announcement of Ghana’s final squad to face Nigeria in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off this month, is “purely strategic.”

Communications Director of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Henry Asante Twum, made this known to the Times Sports yesterday, insisting that the decision to temporarily hold on to the final list, was a deliberate and well-calculated one.

“It is a technical decision backed by management, and it is a well-thought-out and purely strategic move.

“They felt it’s a way of controlling or minimising the abuse that normally takes place before games, especially on social media. Sometimes, the public abuse gets to the players and affects their mentality,” Mr Asante Twum explained.

The Ghanaian social media space, particularly, has been flooded with wide-ranging reactions after the hold-off in making the team public.

Ghana’s Black Stars cross swords with the Super Eagles of Nigeria on home turf on March 25 – with the return leg encounter taking place in the Nigerian capital Abuja, four days later.

Ahead of that nerve-jangling tie, the Nigerians named their squad on March 4, nearly a fortnight ago – triggering a wave of fling-backs from the Ghanaian public. 

But the GFA Communications Director thinks there is no cause for alarm as management and technical team are in full control of the situation.

“I know the players and their clubs have been informed and the coaches are in talks with the individual players as we speak,” he said, stressing that the “coaches can chose not go public at all and it’s within their right to do so.”

According to Mr Asante Twum, the Otto Addo-led Technical Team is not behind schedule in the publication of the squad, “but we can only make the list public with their permission.”

There is no regulation that binds a Federation or Association to make a list public for a one-off game.

Both Ghana and Nigeria have expressed cautious optimism ahead of the crunch ties.

Aggregate winner of the two-legged affair will join four other victors on the continent for the Qatar Mundial.

Ghana, quarter-finalist at the 2010 World Cup, are chasing their fourth campaign at the global stage, whilst Nigeria hunt for their seventh appearance.

BY JOHN VIGAH

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