Franceville, Jan. 31, GNA - Players of the Black Stars continue to battle for starting roles in the team with only 24hours to their last Group D duel against Guinea at the Franceville Stadium on Wednesday.
The team is presently injury free and with Coach Goran Stevanovic insisting he always requires 20 fit players for each game, and would always ring changes in the team to suit every opposition, the battle for slots is almost perpetual.
Some players can without doubt feel secured enough in getting a starting role, because even admitting that Gyan has been playing through pain this far, none can see the Serb giving the striker a bench role when he has often underscored his importance to the team.
Unless Stevanovic has plans of taken it easy against Guinea, who will be needing all points to gain any realistic chance of getting out of the group, perhaps Prince Tagoe and Jordan Ayew could only be content with getting an action even if it means coming off the bench.
Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey has been sincere enough to admit his dissatisfaction with his own performance this far, even though he has kept a clean sheet. He has appeared jittery in games, something one could put to his inexperience at the international stage and being a debutant on this stage can fairly bring those frailties.
However, nursing any hoping of replacing Kwarasey at least for tomorrow's meeting with Sylli Nationale by Daniel Agyei or Ernest Sowah regardless of their incredible talent could at best be seen as remote. In midfield, Derek Boateng continues to work hard at training hoping he gets the nod like he enjoyed few weeks earlier. Questions will continue to rage on on why he has suddenly become only good enough for the bench. Expect the same answers as ' no one changes a winning team' to go on. However, expect the former dreadful Boateng who describes his reduction to a bench-warmer as painful to make a last push for a place in the middle where Emmanuel Agyeman Badu has proven impeccable in the final session of late.
At least the quartet of Captain John Mensah, Isaac Vorsah, John Boye and Jonathan Mensah in defence can have a breather knowing who gets to start in midfield would ultimately be dependent on the Serb.
Vorsah and skipper Mensah just returned from suspensions, leaving Stevanovic spoilt for choices in terms of personnel, knowing Boye and junior Mensah held the fort well in the absence of the seniors.
The onus would be on coach Stevanovic to take the tough decision of keeping faith with the young pair who have fared well in his winning team, or throw Vorsah and Mensah in the mix knowing the last eight beckons and shaking off any match rustiness would come in handy.
In lateral defence, John Painstil who captained the team in the absence of Mensah is enjoying a monopoly at the right side. Massawudu Alhassan' s natural left foot ability had made him a preferred choice ahead of Daniel Opare who manned that position through out the qualifiers.
Issues have been raised on the confidence and competence level of the young debutant, but Stevanovic has kept faith in him and obviously, Opare can continue to work hard and hope that the luck that the football family itself says is crucial smiles at him one more time.
Stevanovic and his charges have their work well cut out, the players can only wait to know who starts and who waits for his turn in the next few hours as the whole country awaits for their triumph to continue to the stage in their quest to annex the ultimate trophy.
By Veronica Commey, (GNA Special Correspondent in Gabon, Courtesy Ministry of Youth and Sports)