CK Akonnor

Current Black Stars coach Charles Kwablan Akonnor has named his best ever senior national team XI, but he has not picked himself, claiming he qualifies as a substitute.

The former midfielder, who won 41 caps between 1994 and 2001 and also captained the Black Stars, included the likes of Abedi Pele, Anthony Yeboah Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien and Mohammed Polo in his team.

Akonnor in an exclusive interview with Joy Sports said his selection was based on a criteria that the players must have excelled both in the national team and at club level.

Charles Akonnor during his playing days

“It comes with a criteria. You must have to have played very well here. [In the] AFCON, you must excel and then Europe,” Akonnor told interviewer, Benedict Owusu.

According to Akonnor, of the players he mentioned, Abedi Pele distinguished himself the most.

Abedi Pele scored 33 goals in 73 appearances for Black Stars

“Out of this category, the person who really was distinguished is Abedi Pele. As a colts player in Falcons, I wasn’t there but we heard it. He played very well here, he conquered Africa and of course Europe as well.”

Starting at the back Akonnor selected former Galatasaray goalkeeper Richard Kingson, Ghana’s second most-capped player, in goal.

At right-back and left-back he chose former Asante Kotoko player Frank Amankwah and former Anderlecht player Isaac Asare with Akonnor backing up his decision saying ‘the old players must excuse me. I am doing this from the 90s. I didn’t see majority of them so they should excuse me.’

Center backs, Champions League winner Samuel Osei Kuffour and former Kotoko defender Frimpong Manso who “always gave me knock in the national team,” Akonnor jokingly said.

In central midfield, Akonnor selected Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien. The two were influential in Ghana’s first-ever qualification to the World Cup in 2006 and Akonnor praised them.

He said: “Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien. You can’t do without them. They are the people from the next generation they took over and they made Ghana proud.”

On the right and left side of midfield, Akonnor picked two of the country’s most talented players ever, Abedi Pele and Mohammed Polo. The two are the only players in the team with an Afcon medal.

Up top, Akonnor picked the country’s all-time top goalscorer Asamoah Gyan (51 goals) as well as Anthony Yeboah.

“Of course Maestro will be my captain,” he said, adding “As for me, I will be the number 12 [12th man]. I always say that you don’t try to change me. When you bring me in, I will score. I am part of the substitutes.”

Akonnor was appointed head coach in January, replacing Kwasi Appiah. The 46-year-old has been tasked to win the 2021 Afcon and qualify for the World Cup in 2022.