It’s been over three years since the search to find a long-term replacement for the right side of Black Stars’ defense started.
Between 2010 and 2018, Harrison Afful had been the tried and tested solution to the right-back position in the tail end of John Paintsil’s magnificent career, having been in the team for quite a long time.
The versatile defender was one player who made the number two position his own after Paintsil bowed out of the Black Stars set-up.
The Columbus Crew star made 78 appearances for the national team with 47 of those games seeing play as a right-back, while he also served as a left-back or a makeshift right midfielder in some games as well.
Afful bagged seven assists during his time with the Black Stars, although not all of those assists came as a result of him playing in his favourite position.
However, since his last game for the team in November 2018, the national team has failed to get a well-established and worthy replacement to fill in the void he left behind.
Under the tutelage of coaches like Kwesi Appiah and Charles Kwablan Akonnor, Andy Yiadom has proven to be the player who has played the most in the right-back position for Ghana, featuring 13 times there across all competitions with one appearance as a left-back.
The UK-based defender has just one assist to his name during that time, teeing up Mubarak Wakaso for the winner in the first 2022 World Cup qualifiers game against Ethiopia.
The player has since been out of the team due to then coronavirus restrictions and injury respectively, missing the games against South Africa and Zimbabwe during the October international.
His absence caused a bit of scare for new head coach Milovan Rajevac, who had just Philemon Baffour to count on as the only right-back in the first call-up for his second stint with Ghana.
Prior to his appointment, Hearts of Oak’s Fatawu Mohammed was entrusted to play as the right-back in the game against Bafana Bafana. But while he didn’t fare badly, his performance was far from convincing, hence missing out on a place in Milo’s maiden squad.
In the Serbian, Ghanaians are expecting him to pay keen attention to an area which has somewhat become the weakest link in the team for the last few games.
His lack of trust in Dreams FC’s Baffour saw him being forced to play Daniel Amartey as a makeshift right-back in the double header against Zimbabwe, a situation which could easily have been avoided if we had options at our disposal.
Milovan needs to pay attention to that side of Ghana’s game, and needs to be as soon as possible considering the tasks that are closer than we first thought.
Here are three options the Serbian could fall on to solve the defensive mishaps and get the team going again;
Benson Anang was one of the names in the team at some point in the last year or so.
The 21-year-old represents a great option for the right-back role. Anang has been one of the best performing Ghanaian defenders out there in Europe.
Defensively a good figure, the youngster’s decision-making while going forward is an amazing sight.
He is able to make runs and pick up balls at advantageous positions, and he is one player who can be a nuisance for an opposition on a good day.
The right-footed player continues to enjoy great playing time with his club and will be a solid addition if we can offer him a way back into the national team.
Bordeaux’s Enock Kwateng is another player that could be considered.
Although the player is yet to represent Ghana at any level on the national level, convincing him to choose Ghana over France will have to be done quickly.
Kwateng has featured in all eight league games for the French side this campaign, lasting the entire duration in each game.
He might be difficult to get but guaranteeing him playing time could give Ghana a chance ahead of France.
A return for Harrison Afful has also not been entirely ruled out.
Though 35 years old, the Columbus Crew man has been enjoying one of his best moments on the field in the last year.
He has been a phenomenal player for the MLS side and has received plaudits from people within and outside the club.
There have also been calls from some section of football fanatics to get the former Asante Kotoko lateral defender into the team but the final decision will have to be made by the Serbian coach.
Afful has started 20 out 22 MLS games this year and has two assists while also playing a role in four clean sheets.
Having guided Ghana to the 2010 World Cup final and to the finals of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, Milovan Rajevac is expected repeat same feat once again and even go better to securing the ultimate but that will only be possible if the loopholes, not excluding the right-back position, are addressed.
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