After missing the 2018 World Cup, Ghana pulled off a stunner in the third round of the African qualifiers for the 2022 edition by eliminating Nigeria. Thomas Partey scored the goal that sealed the deal, but Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew were crucial throughout the whole process. That’s why my colleague Alex selected them to star in Ghana’s Top Player piece.
Do you know who else was crucial? Felix Afena-Gyan. After a couple of months under the wing of manager Jose Mourinho, better known as The Special One, the 19-year-old striker became a real menace to opposing defenses. Fast, technically skilled, and unselfish, Afena-Gyan could be the key for Ghana to make it out of Group H despite not being the betting online favorites to even finish as runners-up.
Born in 2003, Afena-Gyan landed on AS Roma’s youth team in 2021. He previously played for Eurafrica FC. Seven months later, Mourinho needed a striker for the senior team and didn’t hesitate to give him a chance.
He made his professional debut in October, against Cagliari. Less than a month later, he scored a brace against Genoa to give Roma a 2-0 victory. He became the first player born in 2003 to score in the Serie A. That was one of the team’s 18 victories, which in the end allowed them to finish sixth and qualify for the UEFA Europa League.
The 19-year-old also contributed to the Giallorossi to win the first edition of the UEFA Conference League, making three appearances. He played in 22 games overall.
Despite gaining a lot of praise from the coaching staff and the press, Afena-Gyan couldn’t get a spot on the team for the 2022-23 season. The Giallorossi signed Paulo Dybala and Andrea Belotti so … there’s not much more to say.
Afena-Gyan is now playing for Cremonese, another Italian Serie A team, on a loan. Nevertheless, he signed a contract extension with Roma until 2026.
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With the Black Stars
Despite being so young, Afena-Gyan was called up to Ghana’s senior team for the first time in November 2021. However, curiously enough, he said no. He explained that he wasn’t ready and wanted to keep developing his game under Mourinho’s wing.
Four months later, he accepted a second invitation and made his debut in a 0-0 tie with Nigeria on the road to World Cup soccer 2022. He scored his first goal with the Black Stars in a 3-0 victory over Madagascar in the first match of the qualifiers to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Ghana in the 2022 World Cup
As mentioned before, according to the World cup odds, Ghana’s expectations shouldn’t be high. The Black Stars will face Portugal, Uruguay, and South Korea. Cristiano Ronaldo and the company are the favorites at -150 while the South Americans are +200. Ghana and South Korea are offering a +1100 price.
In 2010, Ghana reached the quarterfinals, so it would be best not to underestimate them.
Individually, Jordan and Andre Ayew are offering a +15000 price to win the Golden Boot. That being said, Afena-Gyan could take advantage of the extra attention that the brothers will draw to take the 2022 World Cup by storm.