Will Ghana players be fit 2022 World Cup qualifiers when football returns after coronavirus break?

Published on: 08 June 2020
Will Ghana players be fit 2022 World Cup qualifiers when football returns after coronavirus break?
Black Stars

As the limitations over the coronavirus disease are starting to ease in most countries in Africa, the Ghana national football team must put in place plans to start their activities for the senior national team as soon as possible.

That is because the Black Stars have two important assignments including qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and also reaching the 2022 World Cup.

With the World Cup tournament to be held in Qatar, Ghana has been drawn in Group G where they will face Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ethiopia. The original schedule had it that the first matches of the qualifiers would be played on 5 October 2020 which is yet to start.

With the qualification for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the Black Stars look to be coasting to qualification from Group C as they are leading the table of the group consisting South Africa, Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe.

The groups in the Africa Cup of Nations have so far seen two matches being played and the third and fourth round of matches were originally scheduled to have been played between 23-31 of March two months ago.

But the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic meant that countries shut their borders and football competitions were cancelled which made it impossible for those qualifiers to be played.

Now it looks like CAF are angling for the matches to be played in August and September to ensure that all the qualifiers are played for Cameroon to be able to host the Africa Cup of Nations by next year.

But the countries playing in the competitions like the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers have other worries apart from the scheduling of the matches.

Black Stars coach CK Akonnor would be thinking about the fitness of his players who have not playing football for the past three months because of the restrictions brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Ghana international must be seeking the advice of his medical staff as well as other experienced people in the industry to ensure that when the teams are cleared to play their qualifying matches the Black Stars players will be fit for their assignments.

One of such people Akonnor can count on is Richard Collinge, Head of Medical Services at West Ham United who has been helping the English Premier League to get their players at full fitness levels as the competition will restart in the coming days following the coronavirus-induced long break.

At West Ham, for example, Collinge speaks daily with first-team manager David Moyes and his coaching staff to assess the fitness of players and set realistic targets for their returns.

“It’s all about clear dialogue,” says Collinge. “The process is one of joint decision-making.

“We might look at the frequency of games coming up and pencil in particular players for particular games. Then we discuss what that player needs to do to prove himself fit and available for that game.

“We as medical staff and coaching staff want the player to be confident, ultimately. We want to make sure that the psychology and feedback from the player is positive, so that they can feel primed for competitive action.”

If the Black Stars are to follow the examples of the likes of West Ham United for the start of the competitions, they will achieve their aims of reaching the World Cup and qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations again.