Coach Akonnor: Christian Atsu has not quit Black Stars

Author: Peter Sarbah
Christian Atsu
Christian Atsu

Black Stars coach, Charles Kwablan Akonnor, has denied ever holding any discussion with Christian Atsu over his decision to retire from international duties during his recent visit to Europe.

The Newcastle midfielder was widely reported in the media to have communicated his decision to quit the national team to Coach Akonnor after he (Atsu) was abandoned by the local football authorities when he sustained a knee injury at the last Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.

This assertion was rebuffed by the Ghanaian gaffer in an exclusive interview with the Graphic Sports yesterday, stating that the 28-year-old winger would avail himself for selection once he recovered fully.

“It’s not true that Atsu has retired from the Black Stars. We spoke at length but we did not have discussion on him retiring from the national team,” Coach Akonnor recalled.

He said when news of his retirement broke , he (Akonnor) contacted the player’s agent who also denied knowledge of any intended retirement by the player, emphasising that he had not received any notification from the player.

Coach Akonnor further explained that his decision to sideline the player in his squad for the botched 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Sudan was to help him to recover fully since it would be unwise to put him through the trouble of travelling long distances when he was still recovering.

He traced back to Coach Kwasi Appiah’s last game against South Africa where he pointed out Atsu’s absence due to the same injury reason.

“We agreed to give him some time to recover because he is struggling with that knee injury and I cannot ask him to come all the way to Ghana to play again when he even travels across Europe to seek treatment.

“I have also been a player before and I know what he is going through; it’s something very serious.

He said Atsu was a good player who had a lot to offer the national team, and that he would never shut the doors of the Black Stars to the winger and promised to avail an opportunity to him once he recovered.

Akonnor confessed that the player was influential and would always be a part of his team once he was back to full fitness.
“He (Atsu) is a good player and once he recovers he will be invited,” he assured.

Atsu limped off with a knee injury while playing for the Black Stars during their AFCON 2019 game against Cameroun which ended goalless, and has since not recovered, giving room to speculations of a snub by Coach Akonnor.