Essien returns to Ghana squad after yearlong break

Essien returns to Ghana squad after yearlong break

Published May. 17, 2011 11:36 a.m. ET

Michael Essien was recalled to the Ghana squad on Tuesday and is in line to play his first international in 16 months.

The Chelsea midfielder was included in coach Goran Stevanovic's 24-man squad for the June 3 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Republic of Congo and a friendly against South Korea four days later.

Essien last played for Ghana at the Cup of Nations in January 2010, before injuries cut short his participation in that tournament and then forced him to miss the World Cup, where the team reached the quarterfinals.

The 28-year-old Essien was given an extended break by Ghana to concentrate on his recovery and club form with Chelsea, but announced this month he was ready to return to international football.


Stevanovic also included AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng and young Saudi Arabia-based striker Opoku Agyemang, who both missed earlier qualifiers with injuries.

Boateng was in line to make his home debut for Ghana in the qualifier in the southern city of Kumasi, the Ghana Football Association said.

Ghana leads African Cup qualifying Group I on goal difference from Sudan following a 3-0 away win in Republic of Congo in its last game. The top teams in each group qualify automatically for next year's African championship in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Sunderland striker Sulley Muntari was included, but is suspended for the qualifier. Marseille midfielder Andre Ayew is also in the squad.

The GFA said players would gather in Accra on May 26, a day after an African team plays a Rest of the World squad in the Ghanaian capital in a charity match organized by Essien.