CHAN offers Black Stars a route out of Ghana

Thomas Abbey of Hearts of Oak Christian Thompson/BackpagePix

This weekend Ghana's home-based squad will compete in qualifiers for the Championship of Africa Nations, a tournament which offers an opportunity not to be missed.

Hearts of Oak midfielder Thomas Abbey is in the form of his life, having picked up man of the match awards for fun this season.

He's found the net 12 times for the Phobians this season, and contributed a hatful of assists, prompting Kwesi Appiah to include the influential midfielder in his CHAN team as they seek to reach the 2018 tournament and win it.

Abbey, who scored four goals in three games in July, has also acknowledged that he views the competition as an opportunity to attract interest from overseas.

However, while Appiah will surely be desperate for his key players to perform well, he'll be aware that - with the CHAN a competition for home-based players - he risks losing some of his key talents to moves overseas if they excel.

"I want to do well and earn a move outside," he told KweséESPN. "That is the dream of every player."

It's a view echoed by goalkeeper Razak Abalora, who recently signed for Azam in Tanzania.

"The salaries in the Ghana Premier League are just not good enough," he began. "When I saw the offer from Azam I could not believe it.

"Everyone wants to earn a good living and as footballers we are not different."

Many of the Ghana players in Ouagadougou at the moment will share Abbey and Abalora's ambitions to earn a better living elsewhere, and with salaries notoriously low in the Ghana Premier League, the nation's top flight is losing players at a fast rate.

Since the current home-based Black Stars team was put together, at least four key players have been lost to what is referred to in Ghana as the 'Exodus Bandwagon'.

Richard Arthur from Wa All Stars left for Angolan top-flight side Grupo Desportivo Interclube, Abdul Bashir is in Kosovo with Prishtina, while Fatau Dauda joined Enyimba in Nigeria.

The aforementioned Abalora, another keeper, secured a move to East Africa, while Richard Ofori will play for Maritzburg United this PSL season.

Players have always moved from the Ghana Premier League in search of better sporting opportunities and, in almost every case, better wages, with other African leagues often able to offer a higher standard of living for players.

This is nothing new.

Ivory Coast was a popular destination in the 80s, as was Gabon, with investment fuelled by the discovery of oil. There was also once a time when Tout Puissant Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo had four Ghana internationals.

Until Ghanaian clubs find a solution to the pay gap, Abbey will not be only high-profile local player primed to follow Abalora to any destination that offers a better pay cheque than home.