MLS champions Los Angeles FC (LAFC) have refused Ghana’s request to have forward Kwadwo Opoku ‘Mahala’ available for the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which begins this weekend in Morocco.
Coach Ibrahim Tanko was banking on the 21-year-old alumnus of the Attram de Visser Soccer Academy to help his Black Meteors team in their bid to qualify for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
Opoku is a vital player for LAFC, who have chosen against releasing him because they are not required to do so for a competition that takes place outside of the Fifa international window. In the 16 MLS games LAFC has played thus far in the 2023 season, he has started 12 of them.
“For now, he is not joining because his team didn’t agree to release him for this tournament,” the Ghana U-23 gaffer said while admitting that “this tournament does not fall within the Fifa international dates so we cannot force the team to release him.”
“For now, we know he is not coming and we are focused on the players who are here and we know they can do the job for us,” Tanko added.
After Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer and Kamaldeen Sulemana, Kwadwo Opoku is the third player to be prevented from playing for Ghana in the U-23 Afcon.
Meanwhile, Ernest Nuamah of FC Nordsjaelland is confirmed to be joining the Meteors camp following a time with Ghana’s senior national side, the Black Stars.
Ghana will participate in Group A against Congo, Morocco, and Guinea. On Sunday, June 25, 2023, the Black Meteors will play Congo in their first match. Morocco and Guinea follow on June 27 and 30, respectively.