Five promising Black Meteors athletes to keep an eye on in Morocco for the 2023 U-23 AFCON
The 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) got underway on Saturday in Morocco, and Ghana’s U-23 national side, the Black Meteors, played their opening match the following day.
After playing out a 1-1 draw away from home in the first round, Ghana’s Black Meteors defeated Algeria in a two-legged match with a 2-1 aggregate score to secure their place in the competition.
On Tuesday, June 8, the team’s head coach, Ibrahim Tanko, announced a provisional 29-man squad for the competition, including 15 domestic players and 14 international players.
With just two days until Ghana’s first game, we take a look at some of the talents in the Black Meteors’ team that could utilise this opportunity to their advantage.
Ernest Nuamah Appiah
He is the latest talent to explode onto the scene at Nordsjælland and that has seen him being rewarded at the international level while also being a nominee for the 2023 Golden Boy award.
Nuamah’s first international assignment came in March where he played for the Black Meteors in the qualifiers against Algeria where he provided both assists in the two-legged game as Ghana recorded a 2-1 win.
He comes into the competition on the back of a 16-goal involvement in the Danish League and will be looking to get the attention of many clubs while helping Ghana secure qualification to the 2024 Olympic Games. The tournament could also be an opportunity to sell himself to the technical team of the senior national team more after making his debut against Madagascar on June 18.
Abdul Fatawu Issahaku
Another of Ghana’s young superstars taking too long to explode on the world stage, Fatawu Issahaku will look to revive his confidence at this year’s AFCON in Morocco.
After bursting onto the scene in 2020, he was tipped to be at the top in no time but the Sporting CP forward has struggled to meet the expectation and with very limited playing time with the first team, he will be looking at convincing the club with this tournament.
Issahaku boasts lots of experience having also played for the Black Stars in the last few years. There is no doubt he will one man Ibrahim Tanko will be relying on to pull the strings. He scored both goals against Algeria which sealed qualification to this tournament.
Described as a one-man midfield machine, Essiam has cemented a place in the Black Meteors team with his performance against Algeria.
Playing as the defensive midfielder, the Basel man bossed the game and looked comfortable shielding the defence and controlling the flow of the game from the middle of the park. He was part of the U-20 that won the AFCON in Mauritania two years ago.
Essiam having a good tournament will translate into more minutes for him at his club side while also giving him a chance to eye a call-up to the national team.
In the two games against Algeria, Dominic Nsobila showed his qualities; calmness on the ball and being a very good passer. In Kumasi, he understood the task and was able to determine when to slow the game down in a match which was getting chaotic at some point.
The Accra Lions man is one of few local players to have been included in both the CHAN team and the Black Meteors squad and this tournament could be a special occasion for him to run the show and impress spectators.
A middle partnership with Essiam is one that will grow in many years to come if the team stays together.
Yeboah will be oozing with confidence after scoring a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Zamalek SC during the Black Meteors camping in Egypt, becoming the first to score three goals for any of the male national teams since Jordan Ayew against South Korea before the 2014 World Cup.
There have been calls for the CFR Cluj man to be given a starting berth in the team due to his ability to be the focal point and his great physicality. While he has had very few moments for the team, the forward is hopeful his game against the Egyptian side is enough to convince the gaffer.
Yeboah knows what a good tournament can do for him and his young career and will be willing to make his desire count anytime he will be called upon.
Precision, strength and aerial duels are a good part of his game and Tanko will surely be assessing him ahead of Ghana’s first game.
Ghana begins its campaign against Congo on Sunday, June 25, before later playing Morocco and Guinea in their Group A games.