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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Switzerland Check: Ati-Zigi concedes two goals again, while air is getting thinner and thinner for Afriyie

This season hasn’t been Lawrence Ati-Zigi’s best, especially compared to last year when he won the award for best goalkeeper in the Swiss Football League. Shortly before the AFCON, he had to relinquish his position in goal for the Black Stars to Richard Ofori, and his statistics in the Swiss league are currently not quite as good as they were last season.

Since his return from the AFCON, Ati-Zigi and his team haven’t been performing as well as they would have liked, losing four out of five games and drawing one. The aforementioned draw came last Saturday when FC St. Gallen played FC Winterthur. Although Ati-Zigi’s team took the lead twice, the 27-year-old was beaten. Ati-Zigi couldn’t do much about the goals, and he also made two great saves during the game. Overall, however, it was a mediocre to solid performance, as he was once again not at his best with his feet, especially in build-up play.

The 1.65m tall striker moved from Hearts of Oak to FC Zurich in January last year. In 27 games for the club, Afriyie has managed just two goals and three assists. Both goals were scored last August. Afriyie has been repeatedly criticized by fans and the media for his performances.

Nevertheless, he has mostly played from the start under coach Bo Henriksen in recent weeks. Now that Henriksen has left the club and moved to the German Bundesliga (Mainz), Afriyie has to prove himself anew. In Sunday’s clash against FC Lucerne, Afriyie didn’t make the starting 11. He came onto the pitch after just under an hour but was unable to register a shot on goal during this time. Afriyie was not involved in his teammate’s last-minute goal either. The likelihood of his time in Zurich coming to an end in July is increasing if he doesn’t start scoring goals soon.

The central midfielder moved from Berekum Chelsea to FC Basel in January 2022. The 20-year-old, who is regarded as a great talent, has not yet been able to establish himself there and was loaned to Stade Lausanne-Ouchy, another Super League club, in September 2023. He played nine games for the newly promoted club before suffering a serious shoulder injury.

Essiam is currently undergoing recovery work following surgery. While he was said to be out for the rest of the season, it now looks promising that Essiam will return this season. FC Basel did not remove him from the contingent list after the end of the transfer period. His return should therefore be expected in the coming weeks.

Like Essiam, the center-back also moved from Berekum Chelsea to Basel. However, with one exception, he had previously played for Berekum’s second team. Adjetey is facing exactly the same scenario in Basel, having played just two games for the first team but 25 games for the second team in the third-highest Swiss league. At the moment, however, it looks as if the 20-year-old will be carefully introduced to the professional team. Last weekend, however, Adjetey wasn’t nominated for the matchday squad of the first team but played for the U21s. He featured for 90 minutes in his team’s 5-1 win against FC Luzern’s U21s.

In August 2018, Nuhu made the leap from the West African Football Academy to Europe. At FC St. Gallen, where he is teammates with Ati-Zigi, he did not yet make his breakthrough. In July 2022, he was loaned to Norwegian club KuPS for six months. His time in eastern Switzerland was also marked by numerous injuries, and in his five years at FC St. Gallen, he made just 39 appearances for the first team. So far this season, he has only made two appearances for the U21 team. FC St. Gallen were said to be open to selling Nuhu to another club in this winter transfer period, but they didn’t find a buyer. Last weekend, he was neither in the first team squad nor in the second team.

The 23-year-old left Dreams FC for Israel in 2019 as a rising star. Just one year after his arrival in the Middle East, he then moved to FC Lucerne in Switzerland’s top division. He was never able to establish himself there and was loaned back to Israel for six months in 2022. Last July, the attacking midfielder was loaned out to FC Baden in the second-highest Swiss league but unfortunately injured his ACL after just four minutes. Since then, he has been out with a torn cruciate ligament and is working on his return.

The central midfielder was loaned to the second-highest Swiss league last August from FC Ashdod in Israel. He has been a regular at FC Aarau since the beginning and has impressed with his performances. Pappoe was also planned to be the leader in midfield again last Friday. But the 20-year-old twisted his ankle in the pre-match warm-up. He was still able to play after receiving medical treatment. However, he apparently realized that the pain was worse than expected and was substituted after 15 minutes.

Hopes are high that Pappoe has not suffered a serious injury, as he has been one of the club’s best players this season. Pappoe is due to return to Israel at the end of the season, but it is quite possible that he will head straight to a higher league from there.

The 1.92m tall center-back moved to Israel from Pudu Mighty Jet in 2019. He played for a total of three different clubs before becoming unemployed last August. Since Tuesday, Acquah is also under contract with FC Aarau in the second-highest Swiss league. He was not in the squad for the first or second game since his arrival. The reasons for this are not known, but it is quite possible that he has not yet reached the necessary match fitness after his time without a contract.

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