Ghana to investigate Essien absence

The Ghana Football Association will investigate the absence of the Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, Internazionale's Sulley Muntari and the Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan from the squad which travelled to Luanda for yesterday's friendly against Angola.

The trio were not part of the group which left Accra on Monday for the game at the Estadio dos Coqueiros, but did not have the consent of head coach Milovan Rajevac to leave the squad.

A statement on the GFA website from the general secretary, Kofi Nsiah, read: "In accordance with prescribed Fifa regulations for the release of players for national team matches, the FA wrote to and secured the release of 20 players to honour the World Cup qualifying match against Mali on 15 November and the international friendly against Angola on 18 November.

"Unfortunately, three players, namely Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan, did not travel with the team to Angola on Monday night. The players stayed out without the permission of the head coach, Mr Milovan Rajevac. The FA views this act with great concern and will investigate the matter further to inform its next course of action."

George Weah, the former Fifa World Player of the Year, believes an African team could win next year's World Cup in South Africa. Africa has emerged as a major source of talent, with players such as Liberian-born Weah, Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o playing for some of Europe's leading clubs.

And while an African team has never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of a World Cup, Weah said the 2010 tournament could change that.

"We hope for that, it's not impossible. It's a difficult task but it's not impossible," Weah told reporters. "Ghana just won a junior World Cup. Why not?" Ghana won the under-20 World Cup last month.

Speaking to reporters after a news conference, Weah, who won European and World player of the year in 1995, said discipline and hard work were the keys to success. "Years ago, we couldn't partake in the best player of Europe and the world [competition]," he said. "It happened. There is a high possibility that an African team can win a World Cup if it can prepare well."

Weah hoped that the new stadiums being built for the World Cup and the African Nations Cup in Angola next year would lay the foundations for stronger African soccer. "I'm sure all of the infrastructure they leave here will give people jobs, allow children to play in stadiums that are being built," he said. "A lot of kids don't have opportunity to play on grass."

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