It is no less sensitive for players, not only of those who have spent years trying to get to the World Cup only to find themselves swamped at the last minute with potential substitutes, but also of the substitutes themselves, who have been tasked with integrating into a team of potential teammates but direct competitors.
Brief guide to the 2022 World Cup
“It can be dangerous to get new players,” Ghana coach Otto Addo said. “Especially if the guys who were there did something really good. There’s a team dynamic you don’t want to break.”
Like Cameroon, Ghana has seen its ranks swelled by imports over the past year: Five members of Addo’s Qatar squad – including Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey and Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams – were born elsewhere but have, in recent months, chosen to commit. Their international careers are in the country of birth of their or their parents.
Of course, there were doubts about the purity of their motives. “I know some people say they came because of the World Cup, but honestly we’ll never know,” said Andre Ayew, Ghana’s captain. “But if they have the right heart, and the right determination to die for the team, we will open every door we have to make them comfortable.”
Asamoah Gyan, a striker who was born in Accra, Ghana, and represented his country at the 2010 World Cup, wondered what would happen after the tournament. “After that, they should still be available, because this is not a national team that participates in one tournament,” he said. “Once you obtain citizenship in Ghana, you must be fully committed.”
The players themselves did what they could to allay those doubts. Lamptey, who was born in England to Ghanaian parents, founded a foundation that works with children in Nosuo, North Accra. Williams, whose parents left Ghana while his mother was pregnant, spent time with his grandparents in the country during the summer.