The presence of COVID-19 has caused a huge selection headache for Charles Kwablan Akonnor ahead of the AFCON qualifiers against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.

But, that headache has served as a blessing for local-based players. In the past, Black Stars squads featured a number of foreign-based stars with little attention given to the local ones.

On Thursday, Akonnor released his final squad with included nine local players.

Among those nine locals, Razak Abalora and Gladson Awako have featured for the senior national team in the past.

This means seven local players will be in the team for the first time ever.

Here are the seven lucky ones:

Ibrahim Danlad

Danlad got his spot in the team after a stellar outing during the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

The King Faisal loanee conceded just three goals in that competition whilst recording four clean sheets.

He was eventually awarded the golden glove and unsurprisingly made the team of the tournament. Despite struggling for game time at club level, the shot-stopper will have the opportunity to learn on a bigger stage.

Philemon Baffour

Baffour was one of the lucky three from the Black Satellites setup to receive promotion to the senior national team.

The Dreams FC right back was a strong presence in Ghana’s charge for the U-20 AFCON trophy earlier in March.

With a good attacking instinct and an even better defensive awareness, Baffour could make a great case for the somewhat vacant right-back slot.

Fatawu Issahaku

Fatawu enters as the sixth youngest player in history to make it to the senior national team.

The decision to bring him on board was no surprise. The 17-year-old dazzled the whole of Africa in the just ended U-20 AFCON, clinching the Player of the tournament award for good measure.

He currently plies his trade in Steadfast FC, a Division One League side. He may not have a run out against South Africa or Sao Tome and Principe.

However, some guidance from the experienced players would do him a world of good.

Eric Ofori-Antwi

Some goalkeepers have shone in the GPL this season and Ofori-Antwi is certainly one of them.

The 26-year-old has kept six clean sheets for Medeama this campaign, a record shared with Kotoko’s Razak Abalora.

It comes as no surprise that both he and Abalora were called into the squad.

He would however, have to really impress to move ahead of Abalora in the pecking order.

Ismail Ganiyu

This season, Kotoko have been strong defensively and Ganiyu has played a massive role on that front.

The 24-year-old has formed a strong partnership with Mubarik Yussif at the heart of defense, leading to a multitude of clean sheets for the Porcupines.

Against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe, the former Karela United man may be given the nod to replicate his league form on the international stage.

Joseph Esso

Esso started slowly this season but eventually found a new gear, leading to the resurgence of Dreams FC on the league table.

The former Hearts of Oak forward has netted 10 goals in the competition, only Diawisie Taylor has scored more (12).

His ability to find the back of the net could force a run out in the upcoming matches.

Kwame Opoku

From Nkoranza Warriors to Asante Kotoko, Kwame Opoku has scored goals, and important ones too.

The 21-year-old netted eight goals in all competitions this season, convincing Algerian side USM Alger to splash the cash for his services.

His inclusion in the Black Stars has certainly made the last two weeks perfect for the striker and he would certainly hope to find the net on a bigger stage.