Next generation: who are the future stars of the Ghana national team?

Published on: 30 March 2023

Despite scoring five goals in three matches and putting in a spirited performance against tournament underdogs South Korea, Ghana crashed out of the 2022 World Cup at the group stages.

Gone are the days of the Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, and Co. They are all legends in their own right, but it is now time for a new crop of emerging talent to take over.

Now under the guidance of former Premier League manager Chris Hughton, here is a look at the future stars that can put the Ghana national team back on the map.

Mohammed Kudus

Still only 22 years old, Mohammed Kudus announced himself on the world stage even before this winter’s tournament in Qatar, when he compared himself to Brazil legend Neymar. The pair eventually finished on the same number of tournament goals (two) thanks to Kudus’ brilliant brace in an electric performance against Korea on matchday two. Although his career in Europe started at Danish side Nordsjaelland, the forward has significantly developed his game since joining Ajax in 2020.

The 22-year-old worked under Erik ten Hag for two seasons before the Dutchman joined Manchester United in the summer. Despite a 7-0 mauling at rivals Liverpool on March 5, Ten Hag’s side still has odds of -700 to finish in the top four this campaign on bet365, which features among Ireland’s top 20 betting sites. There is nothing ruling out a reunion between Kudus and Ten Hag at some stage. But with seven goals in 21 international appearances, it looks certain that the young forward will lead the Ghana line for at least another decade.

Tariq Lamptey

Just a few years ago, the possibility of Tariq Lamptey representing the Black Stars seemed a distant possibility. Born in London and having come through the England youth set-up, it seemed destined the full-back would go on to represent the Three Lions, particularly after announcing himself at Chelsea before later joining Brighton. However, the plethora of options at right-back for Gareth Southgate meant that Lamptey elected to represent his father’s place of birth, making us Ghanaians the obvious beneficiaries.

The 22-year-old made his Black Stars debut in a friendly against Brazil just a few months before the start of Qatar 2022 under then-manager Otto Addo. Lamptey has since gone on to make three more appearances for the national side, including two in this winter’s World Cup. Granted, his limited game time means there is little experience of what the full-back can offer Ghana. But with his experience at a young age, given his impressive 70 Premier League appearances already, it looks likely Lamptey will have a key role under Houghton going forward.

Mohammed Salisu

Making his debut at the same time as Lamptey was Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu, who later scored in a 2-0 friendly victory over Switzerland. Salisu joined the Saints in 2020 before enjoying a breakout season a year later. This campaign, while still only 22 years old, the Ghanian has been one of the few bright points in an otherwise dim season for Southampton.

Naturally, Salisu’s increasing wealth of Premier League experience – which already stands at 67 league appearances for Saints – has coincided with a consistent spell in the Ghana national team. Since coming on as a substitute to gain his first cap against Brazil, the 22-year-old has started each of the last five games for the Black Stars, playing the full 90 minutes in all but one of them. Salisu was a stalwart in Addo’s World Cup squad and even popped up with a goal against Korea. Like Kudus, he too could be destined for a big move sometime soon, but his future in the Ghana squad looks secured for years to come.

Kamaldeen Sulemana

From one exciting Southampton prospect to the next. Kamaldeen Sulemana joined Saints in a deadline day move from Rennes, having also made a name for himself at Nordsjaelland like Kudus. Playing predominantly on the left wing, Sulemana’s 10 goal contributions in 47 games for the Ligue 1 side earned him a Premier League move, where he is slowly getting acclimatized.

His performances will only grow with this experience, although at just 21 years old Sulemana has already made an impressive 15 appearances for the Black Stars since his debut in 2020 under Charles Akonnor. Perhaps most crucially, Sulemana has already featured in key World Cup qualification matches, as well as a handful of games each at the Africa Cup of Nations and the most recent World Cup in Qatar. With the experience of Andre Ayew and Inaki Williams up front – the latter of whom only recently declared for Ghana – it is thought that Sulemana can grow alongside Kudus and form a formidable attack for the future.

Ghana’s showing at the 2022 World Cup was a far cry from the magical last-eight finish achieved in South Africa in 2010. It did, however, continue a trend of successive group-stage exits with a non-qualification for Russia 2018 sandwiched in between.

Now, with these players as well as a host of other promising talents - such as Osman Bukari and Antoine Semenyo - Houghton’s side is well-equipped to go deep into the latter knockout stages of our upcoming major tournaments.