Fatawu Issahaku featured for Ghana at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

The Black Stars are gearing up for pivotal clashes against Mali and the Central African Republic in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June.

Ghana’s quest to reach the next global showpiece hinges on securing positive outcomes, as they currently sit in a precarious 4th place in Group I with one win after two matches.

Otto Addo has named 26 players to boost the nation’s hopes of clinching a spot at the World Cup, and among the chosen few is Leicester City’s scorching-hot winger, Fatawu Issahaku, who has been electrifying the pitch lately.

The youngster’s impressive form suggests he could be the missing jigsaw Coach Addo needs to solve the crucial upcoming puzzles.

His talent was never in doubt

From the outset, Fatawu was a precocious talent with a knack for imposing himself in games. “There was a day I saw him kicking a ball and I realised that he had something special in him," Fatawu's youth coach, Ibrahim Dauda, has told the BBC's George Addo Jnr.

After featuring for Steadfast FC in his hometown, Tamale, the attacker deservedly earned a big platform and seized the opportunity with both hands.

After a three-week spectacle of talents at the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in March 2021, Fatawu was crowned the best player of the tournament. He netted twice and delivered stirring performances, leading Ghana to a triumphant victory. He has since not looked back.

He made a grand entrance into the Ghana Premier League with a sublime goal for Dreams FC against Asante Kotoko. He received the ball with a delicate touch, deftly dribbled past an onrushing defender, wove his way around three more, and slotted the ball into the net. This moment showcased his extraordinary technical prowess. In just five matches, Fatawu scored four goals and earned two Man of the Match awards, securing the NASCO Player of the Month honour eventually.

Fatawu went past four Asante Kotoko players to score on his Ghana Premier League debut

Recognising the need for a greater challenge, Fatawu left the local scene for Europe. After only a few games with Sporting Lisbon, his nimble footwork and dazzling performances caught the eye of 2015/16 English Premier League champions Leicester City. His stellar performance for the Foxes this past season has left many in awe. But those who knew him in time, say they are not surprised one bit.

“I think even when he was playing in the local league, there was one question, the person asked, who is the player I’ve seen in the local league?

“I remember I said, I mentioned Fatawu’s name, he’s somebody who can be a very good model,” Ghana’s all-time top scorer Asamoah Gyan said on the Halftime show.

Season of his life at Leicester

Eight months ago, Fatawu embarked on a journey that would redefine his destiny, signing for Leicester City. Little did he know this decision would become the crowning glory of his young career.

He walked onto the hallowed grounds of the King Power Stadium, humble yet hungry for growth. Despite his impressive background, he recognised there was still much to learn and improve upon. Fatawu spoke of his burning desire to absorb knowledge like a sponge soaking up water.

“To learn more is the most important thing,” he declared to the club's media after joining the Foxes in August, 2023.

Under the watchful eyes of his manager and former Manchester City assistant trainer Enzo Maresca, Fatawu's talent was transformed into a masterpiece. The young winger directly contributed to 19 goals for the Foxes in the just-ended season. His goal-scoring prowess was on full display after he hit a hat-trick against Southampton.

Fatawu became the first Ghanaian to score a hat-trick in the English Championship

Yet, what truly set Fatawu apart was his enhanced creativity and decision-making. He created 32 big chances for the club in 40 matches during his debut season in the Championship. His defensive ability has also been honed and is impressive for a winger, outperforming even the highly-ranked Championship standout Crysencio Summerville. Fatawu capped his best-ever season by clinching Leicester’s Young Player of the Year award.

Unique outlet in current Black Stars

The latest squad released by coach Otto Addo comprises six wingers, and while they are certainly talented, Fatawu brings a distinct dynamism to the final attacking third of the senior national team.

Throughout his career, the former Sporting Lisbon forward has evolved into a quintessential inverted right winger, showcasing the skills and attributes essential for this role. His versatility across the front line, combined with his technical prowess, makes him standout.

This season, the former Dreams FC man has been nothing short of sensational. He has scored 6 goals and provided 13 assists, with a 54% dribbling success rate and an average of 1.7 key passes per game. These numbers are the third best in the latest squad (surpassed by Kamaldeen Sulemana and Osman Bukari; excluding Kudus, who often plays in midfield for Ghana).

Fatawu's defensive contributions have also been noteworthy, averaging 1.5 tackles per game and recovering the ball 3.7 times per match with Jordan Ayew boasting slightly higher defensive stats with 1.9 tackles per game and 4.4 ball recoveries.

However, it is the well-rounded contribution that makes Fatawu unique, and poised to dominate the wings, particularly the right flank. The former Steadfast player has significantly elevated his game, especially in decision-making - knowing when and where to run, when to shoot, and when to pass.

Unlike the old Fatawu, who was often predictable and tended to shoot as soon as he cut in on his favoured left foot from the edge of the box, the new Fatawu displays extraordinary confidence and versatility. He is now adept at taking on markers, spotting teammates in the box for crosses, or using them as decoys to produce curlers into the top corner. His precision with curlers has become a notable strength.

Fatawu scored a stunning curler against Bournemouth in the Emirates FA

This season, marked by strong numbers, impressive defensive displays, and relentless determination on the pitch, has seen Fatawu blossom into a supremely talented, all-around player. As Ghana prepares for crucial matches against Mali on June 6 and the Central African Republic four days later, Fatawu's influence could be pivotal.

His skill set and current form make him a key player who can exploit defensive weaknesses and create scoring chances, ultimately securing victories and enhancing Ghana’s chances of reaching the next World Cup.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.