Ghana without its top 2 goalkeepers for World Cup

Sports

Ghana had to leave its top two goalkeepers out of its World Cup squad after they were injured ahead of the announcement on Monday.

First-choice goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott broke his finger in the warmup ahead of a game with his English club side Charlton Athletic this weekend and has now been ruled out of the World Cup, while backup Richard Ofori has a knee injury, according to his South African club Orlando Pirates.

That means Ghana has been forced to dig deep into its reserves for the tournament in Qatar.

Lawrence Ati-Zigi, who plays his club soccer in Switzerland, is likely to start the World Cup in goal. The other two goalkeepers named in the squad are Abdul Manaf Nurudeen, who has two caps, and 19-year-old Ibrahim Danlad, who is yet to play for Ghana.

As expected, Ghana selected defender Tariq Lamptey, a former England youth international, and forward Iñaki Williams, who has one cap for Spain, after they changed allegiance this year.

Ayew brothers Andre and Jordan also made the squad as did Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey. Jeffrey Schlupp and Joseph Paintsil were left out.

The 26-year-old Wollacott will need surgery on his finger, Charlton said on Monday after the club gave him two days to see if he had a chance of making the World Cup.

“Everyone at the club is bitterly disappointed for Jojo,” Charlton manager Ben Garner said. “He played such an important part in Ghana getting to the World Cup and we all know how much he was looking forward to it.

“For the injury to happen so close to the tournament…is very cruel.”

Ghana is one of only three African teams to have reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup, a feat it achieved in South Africa in 2010, but it goes to this year’s tournament at a low point.

It was eliminated in the group stage of the African Cup of Nations at the start of the year in its worst performance at the continental championship. That led to coach Milovan Rajevac being fired in January and replaced with Otto Addo.

Lamptey and Williams are among a new group of players Addo has introduced to the team.

Ghana plays Portugal in its first game at the World Cup and will also face South Korea and Uruguay in Group H.

That final group game against Uruguay is a rematch of the 2010 quarterfinal, when Luis Suarez infamously blocked a goal-bound header with his arm late in extra time to deny Ghana a place in the semifinals. Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty and Uruguay won in a shootout.

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Ghana:

Goalkeepers: Abdul Manaf Nurudeen (Eupen), Ibrahim Danlad (Berekum Chelsea), Lawrence Ati-Zigi (St. Gallen).

Defenders: Denis Odoi (Club Brugge), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton), Alidu Seidu (Clermont), Daniel Amartey (Leicester), Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo), Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg), Mohammed Salisu (Southampton), Baba Rahman (Reading), Gideon Mensah (Auxerre).

Midfielders: Andre Ayew (Al Sadd), Thomas Partey (Arsenal), Elisha Owusu (Gent), Salis Abdul Samed (Lens), Mohammed Kudus (Ajax), Daniel Kofi Kyereh (Freiburg).

Forwards: Daniel Afriyie (Hearts of Oak), Kamal Sowah (Club Brugge), Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting Lisbon), Osman Bukari (Red Star Belgrade), Iñaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), Kamaldeen Sulemana (Rennes).

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup