With the restrictions over the coronavirus pandemic starting to ease right across Africa, the Ghana football authorities must start their planning for the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers as soon as possible.

That is because the qualifying for the World Cup is one of the key targets of the new football administration after the country failed to reach the recent tournament in Russia two years ago but was able to make back-to-back appearances from 2006 to 2014.

To achieve this dream of returning to the World Cup, coach CK Akonnor must start his planning process from now even though it is clear that the football calendar has been severely affected and could be forced to change the dates for the qualifiers.

The original schedule had it that the first matches of the qualifiers would be played on 5 October 2020 with the Black Stars drawn in Group G where they will face Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ethiopia.

But with the football calendar forced to make changes because of the outbreak of the disease, the date originally set could be changed by FIFA.

That’s not the only challenge faced by Ghana who are desperate to return to the top of global football but it must also contend with injuries to some of its key players particularly defender Daniel Amartey whose presence would be crucial if the Black Stars are to make an impact and qualify.

The Leicester City player has been struggling with his ankle injury and subsequent surgery since suffering the setback while playing for the English Premier League side in the league match.

Even though in his absence players like Kassim Adams and Joseph Aidoo have stepped up to the plate their performances have not been as impactful as Amartey when he was playing for the national team.

With the coronavirus-induced break that prevented football action for about three months, Amartey would have recovered from his injury but West Ham defender Ryan Fredericks who is in the same league as the Ghanaian thinks more time is needed before the Leicester City star can play for Ghana.

The West Ham player, who has had the experience of recovering from serious injuries agrees that being ready to play in a game is far more complex than merely having the capacity to run long distances.

“The hard miles in games don’t really tire you out,” Frederick says. “Sprinting up and down isn’t really what we find hard.

“The hard stuff is the short bursts of pace, when you’ve got to quickly get tight to someone. Nobody can tell you that you’re match fit unless you’ve been in the scenario where you’re having to struggle in the last 10 minutes and you’ve got to grind out a game.

“That’s when you find out about yourself, not doing runs in training.”

A player’s return for the reserves is often heralded as a major landmark on the road to match fitness.

In reality, though, while this represents one of the final hurdles to a first-team return, they still have plenty to prove at this stage, not just in terms of their physical wellbeing but also their state of mind.