Awal determined to book a spot in Ghana’s WC squad

2014-02-26 00:00

MARITZBURG United centre back Mohamed Awal’s hopes of representing Ghana at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil received a blow yesterday when he was left out of a 21-man squad for next week’s international friendly against Montenegro.

The strength of the Black Stars squad is evident in the fact that 20 of the 21 players selected — which include the likes of AC Milan’s Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari — play their football outside of the Ghana Premier League.

Awal has represented Ghana on one occasion, and was a member of the 2013 African Cup of Nations squad that made it to the semi-final stage of the tournament in South Africa.

Having played under three different coaches at United this season and having had his fair share of injury concerns, Awal realises how difficult it is going to be to catch the attention of Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah once more.

“It is a squad of world-class players and you have to work extremely hard to get there,” he told The Witness yesterday. “We have many players playing in big leagues outside of our country, and many good players in our country too.”

But Awal, who was brought on as a substitute in Saturday night’s Nedbank Cup win over Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala Stadium, is not losing hope.

“There are places up for grabs and I will keep believing that I can go [to the World Cup],” the 25-year-old said.

“I don’t know what is going to happen, but I will keep doing everything that I can to make sure that I am there.”

But if Awal stands any chance of being on the plane to Brazil, then he must surely be playing week in and week out for United.

At this stage last season, Awal and fellow centre back Mario Booysen were the first two names put down on then-coach Ernst Middendorp’s team sheet. The pair were United’s main strength then, but things are not so simple any more.

New coach Steve Komphela has given a new lease of life to Mario’s brother, David Booysen, and Robyn Johannes — who arrived from Orlando Pirates at the start of the season — is nearing a return to match fitness. But Awal views the new competition at the club positively, saying that it is making him a better player.

“The competition is good for everybody involved at the club. Last season we [Awal and Mario Booysen] were playing even if we were battling with injuries,” said Awal. “Now we have more good players and it makes you keep improving when there is this kind of competition around you all the time.”

On United’s battle against relegation this season, Awal said that there was a feeling of confidence in the camp under Komphela.

“He is a good coach. The way he speaks to us is good and we are all getting better under him,” said Awal of his latest mentor. “But we know that it is not going to be easy, the PSL is a very tough league.”

The Team of Choice are next in action on Friday night, when they host Moroka Swallows in a crucially important PSL clash at Harry Gwala.

Kick-off is at 8 pm and the match will not be televised.

Ghana squad

Goalkeepers: Adam Kwarasey (Stromgodset, Norway), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), Samuel Inkoom (Platanias, Greece), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege, Belgium), David Addy (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal), Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor, Turkey), John Boye (Rennes, France), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France)

Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan, Italy), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan, Italy), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus, Italy), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke, Germany), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu (Udinese, Italy), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough, England), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Christian Atsu (Vitesse Arnhem, Holland), Andre Ayew (Marseille, France)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, UAE), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes, Italy), Jordan Ayew (Marseille, France).

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