Dan Kowa in country dilemma
Koffi Dan Kowa is now a Nigerien, but he says he feels like a traitor. Born, and having lived in Ghana for most of his life, football reasons led him to move to the Sahel.
His biological name is Kofi Dankwa and he has been named in the Niger squad to face Ghana in the Afcon 2013. Both teams are in Group B, and he has played a vital role in the country's qualifiers as well as the last African Cup.
Now 23, the defender plays for Zarzis in Tunisia and attended one of the most prestigious high schools in Ghana, Pope John Senior Secondary School and Junior Seminary.
Then he featured for Stay Cool Professionals, who used to be in the Ghana Premier League. "I wanted national team football, so I went to look for someone who would give me the exposure."
Niger came calling, and he took the bait. It has paid off well, and he is a hero for the country. Indeed, it was his header that saw the side confirm their place in South Africa among the continent's 16 finalists.
The feat earned him a four-wheel drive car gift from the Nigerien head of state. On the state of his heart regarding playing Ghana later in January, he revealed his dilemma.
"It’s not all that comfortable, but I think I have to respect my motherland," he said in an interview with Joy FM in Ghana's capital.
His reaction when the groupings for the 2013 showpiece came out was predictable. "The day that the groupings were done, my father called me and asked 'Koffi, have you seen the groups?'. I said "yes'."
The player's father then asked, laughing: "Are you going to fight with me and your mum?". "No, it won’t be possible," Koffi told his dad, going on: "I have to respect my work. I can’t say because I live in Ghana and I’m a Ghanaian. Today, I’ve naturalised for Niger. It’s difficult for me, but it’s my work too."
Dan Kowa's work will involve trying to help the Mena scale the group hurdle against Mali and DR Congo as well.
Gernot Rohr is Niger's boss, and having led his immediate employers, Gabon, into the last eight, the Frenchman has expectations piled high in the Sahel.