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Danlad Ibrahim: The rise, release, and the road ahead for Ghana’s once-promising goalkeeper

In a decision that has stunned many in Ghanaian football, Asante Kotoko has released 21-year-old goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim, a player once heralded as the potential answer to Ghana’s goalkeeping conundrum.

The Kumasi-based club, which concluded the season in sixth place, has parted ways with a total of eleven players, signalling a significant reshuffle within their squad.

Asante Kotoko parts ways with 11 players after 2023/24 season

Danlad Ibrahim’s association with Asante Kotoko began in 2016 when he joined the club’s youth setup. His talent was evident from the outset, with his quick reflexes and composure making him a standout performer.

By 2019, he was loaned out to Berekum Chelsea to gain more first-team experience. The stint proved beneficial, and upon his return to Kotoko, Ibrahim was more prepared for the rigors of top-tier football.

During his time at Kotoko, he played a crucial role in the club’s triumph in the 2021-22 Ghana Premier League season. His performances not only helped secure the league title but also earned him individual accolades, cementing his reputation as one of the country’s top young goalkeepers.

Ibrahim’s potential was not confined to club football. He was a standout performer for Ghana’s U-17 and U-20 national teams, showcasing his skills on the international stage.

His heroics at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and subsequent appearances for the U-20 side, including the triumphant campaign at the 2021 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations, further cemented his reputation.

His outstanding performances in these competitions earned him the Golden Glove awards and a place in the IFFHS CAF Youth Team of the Year in 2020. Additionally, he was named Goalkeeper of the Year at the Ghana Football Awards in 2021.

Despite the early promise, his career at Asante Kotoko faced hurdles.

Competition for the starting goalkeeper position was fierce, and his performances, though often solid, were not always enough to secure him a consistent starting role.

His 2023/24 season with Asante Kotoko was a mix of highs and lows. Out of the 34 Ghana Premier League matches, he made 13 appearances, conceding 12 goals and keeping 4 clean sheets. These statistics reflect a season where he struggled to consistently secure the starting spot, leading to his eventual release.

The club’s recent decision to release him, along with ten other players, indicates a strategic shift as they aim to rebuild and improve on their sixth-place finish this season.

The question now is: What next for Danlad Ibrahim? At just 21, he has ample time to rejuvenate his career and fulfill the potential that many saw in him. Several paths lie open to him. A move to another club within the Ghana Premier League could provide the regular playing time he needs to regain his form and confidence.

Alternatively, a transfer abroad, possibly to a club in a lower-tier European league, might offer him new challenges and opportunities for growth.

For the national team, Danlad’s journey is far from over. Many pundits and fans believed he would soon be a mainstay in the senior national team, the Black Stars after making his first World Cup appearance in Qatar 2022 as a third choice goalkeeper.

The Black Stars continue to seek stability and excellence in the goalkeeping department, and with the right guidance and experience, Ibrahim could still emerge as a key player for Ghana.

The football world will be watching closely to see how he seizes the opportunities ahead and potentially rises to become the stalwart goalkeeper that Ghana once hoped he would be.

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