African teams fill up World Cup squads with European recruits

It’s no less tricky for the players, not only for those who have spent years trying to reach the World Cup only to be inundated with potential substitutes at the last moment, but also for the substitutes themselves who are tasked with fitting one in Squad of potential teammates but immediate rivals.

“It can be dangerous to get new players,” said Ghana coach Otto Addo. “Especially when the players who were already there did something really good. There’s a group dynamic that you don’t want to break.”

Like Cameroon, Ghana has also been bolstered by imports over the past year: five members of Addo’s squad in Qatar – including Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey and Athletic Bilbao’s Iñaki Williams – were born elsewhere but decided to sign theirs in recent months international career in the country of birth of their parents.

Of course, there were doubts about the purity of their motives. “I know some people say they came for the World Cup but to be honest we will never know,” said Andre Ayew, the Ghana captain. “But if they have the right heart and determination to die for the team, we will open every door we have to make them feel comfortable.”

Asamoah Gyan, a forward who was born in Accra, Ghana and represented the country at the 2010 World Cup, wondered what would come after the tournament. “They should still be available after that because this isn’t a national team that plays in a single tournament,” he said. “Anyone who has been naturalized for Ghana should be fully committed.”

The players themselves did what they could to dispel those doubts. Lamptey, born in England to Ghanaian parents, set up a foundation in Nuaso, north of Accra, that works with children. Williams, whose parents left Ghana while his mother was pregnant with him, spent the summers with his grandparents in the country.


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