Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey and Athletic Bilbao striker Inaki Williams are among five players who have transferred their international allegiance to Ghana.
London-born Lamptey, 21, has represented England at youth level while Williams, born in Bilbao to Ghanaian parents, was once capped by Spain.
Winger Lamptey looked set to move to the West African nation after ask to be dropped from the England Under-21 squad for the European U21 Championship qualifiers last month.
The duo join three Germany-based players – Stephen Ambrosius, Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer and Patric Pfeiffer – in signing up with the Black Stars ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
German-born defender Pfeiffer, 22, plays for Darmstadt 98, but the pair of 23-year-old Ambrosius and 21-year-old striker Konigsdorffer have both represented Germany at Under-21 level.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) expects their availability to help the West Africans step up to the next level.
“The availability of these players means a lot to the Ghana Football Association and the Black Stars technical team,” said GFA chairman Kurt Okraku.
“We have always said that we will not limit ourselves to a small group of players, but seek out the best talents from around the world who are ready to sacrifice themselves for the nation and take us to the next level.
“It gives the technical team more options to choose from, adding to our continued desire to improve the squad.
“Coach Otto Addo and his technical team will continue to monitor and assess them for future assignments, including the games in September and the World Cup in Qatar.”
Negative to positive titles
The GFA’s decision to make public overtures to diaspora-born players has often been characterized by negative headlines and has caused polarization among fans of the four-time African champions.
But slowly that is starting to change, following the recent capture and contribution of Belgian Denis Odoi to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
“This [commitment of the quintet] follows extensive engagements between GFA management, players and their parents over the past few months. The players are therefore available for selection in our upcoming international matches,” the GFA said. said in a statement.
Ghana enjoys a recent Fifa rule allowing players more leeway to change national teams.
Players can change national teams as long as they have played no more than three competitive matches at senior level before turning 21.
However, appearances in World Cups or continental finals such as the European Championships would prohibit a change in eligibility.
The New Black Stars
The quintet’s availability for Ghana is a huge boost ahead of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, where the 2010 quarter-finalists will face Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.
Williams, whose younger brother Nico also plays for Athletic, grew up wanting to play for Spain and represented them at youth level.
But after making his senior international bow for La Roja in 2015 in a 3-1 friendly win over Bosnia, he found himself locked out of the national team.
After seven years of waiting, he is now delighted to swap the colors of Spain against the Black Stars kit.
“Today a new challenge begins. From now on, I will defend the Ghana T-shirt with all my will while I give my best. I am part of the Black Stars,” said Williams. in a video on social media.
Last May, Lamptey asked to be dropped from the England Under-21 squad for matches against the Czech Republic, Albania, Kosovo and Slovenia.
Eligible for Ghana through his parents, his father Ahmed played a huge role, while former Brighton manager Chris Hughton – a technical advisor for the Black Stars – also made an important contribution to Lamptey’s decision.
German-born Ghanaian coach Addo was a major influence in convincing 34-year-old Odoi and the trio Ambrosius, Konigsdorffer and Pfeiffer to pledge their allegiance to the West African nation.
Addo, who has worked at former club Dortmund since 2019, represented Ghana at the World Cup in 2006, making two appearances at the event as the Black Stars reached the knockout stages.
He guided Ghana to qualification for the 2022 World Cup, beat fierce West African rivals Nigeria on the away goals rule after a 1-1 draw in Abuja.
He recently extended his contract with Ghana until the end of December 2022.