Danlad Ibrahim is likely to be the second ever Asante Kotoko player to be selected for the FIFA World Cup finals after Shilla Illiasu did so in 2006.
Illiasu , 23 years old then , was one of the four home-based players selected by Black Stars manager Ratomir Dujković for Ghana’s maiden World Cup appearance in Germany 2006. The other players were Dan Quaye of Hearts of Oak , goalkeeper George Owu of AshantiGold and Habib Mohammed of King Faisal FC.
Goalkeeper Danlad left Ghana for United Arab Emirates on Sunday ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the Black Stars and Switzerland at the Baniyas Club Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile Ghana coach Otto Addo is expected to name his final squad list for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Monday.
Following Joseph Wollacot’s finger injury at Charlton Athletic last Saturday , Kotoko goalkeeper Danlad is widely tipped to be part of Addo’s best 26 players for the Mundial.
Looking back at 2006 World Cup , Shila was not expected to play as much as he did in Germany but a Samuel Kuffourr howler against Italy opened a door of opportunity for the Kotoko defender. It was his top World Cup performances that almost took him to Arsenal.
“Arsene Wenger told me that he had monitored me against Czech Republic and believes that I’m one of the best defenders in Africa. He told me he wanted to sign me to Arsenal to help his team,” Illiasu once told Asempa FM.
“I started training with them and after the third training session, the agent called and confirmed Wenger was impressed and wanted to sign me.
“Later, the agent called and requested that I speak with Alhaji Grunsah because he was being stubborn.
“And that I should also engage Kotoko, Kwabena Kesse ‘Kessben’ was then the CEO.
“I remember I spoke to him and Mr Kesse told me they were still in talks with Arsenal and assured me my future remained the central focus.”
Illiasu would instead end up at Russian side FC Saturn.
“It was later that I realised that Alhaji was the biggest problem. He personally wrote a letter to Arsenal telling them that I was his bonafide property,” the defender added.
“So the agent asked [about] what Alhaji [was] saying. The agent asked me that ‘can’t you talk to Alhaji?’ Because he is trying to bring problem.
“Alhaji wrote to Arsenal that I was his bonafide property and that time too I was a Kotoko player.
“What I know is that Alhaji had a percentage, my transfer from King Faisal to Kotoko wasn’t an outright deal so Alhaji had a percentage [stake] in me.
“So when the Arsenal deal was to go through, Kotoko told Alhaji he was getting close to nothing from the deal and Alhaji also did his things.”
The Arsenal disappointment was indeed a big missed opportunity as the centre-back failed to get over the disappointment.
“These are some of the things I feel sad to remember. Its not easy, I remember shedding tears over this in a radio interview sometime back,” he concluded.
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