Atem, one of the top strikers in the Ghanaian league with AshantiGold, believes he could solve the Black Stars goalscoring problems. “Ghana has been good to me and I want to give something back to this country,” he told BBC Sport. “After spending four years playing here, it will be good for my career and my family if I represent Ghana…”
“Ghana has a good side but the forward line is not that doing well.
“At the Cup of Nations, they scored just two goals and when you look at the results from friendly games, it is clear that they have a problem in this area.
“I don’t know why but I believe that with my skills and the quality midfield players the national team has in Essien and Appiah, I can change things.”
While some people in Ghana’s football community may think that Atem is seeking to take advantage of Ghana’s World Cup qualification, the Cameroonian insists his desire is heartfelt.
“If I get to play at the World Cup finals that will be fantastic but I am looking beyond that.
“Ghana is always at the highest level in international football and the Nations Cup is coming up in 2008.
“I will have many opportunities to show how good I am.”
Atem’s request for Ghanaian citizenship is in marked contrast to the rising number of players that turned down Ghana to play for other countries.
Gerald Asamoah opted for Germany, while Eric Akoto switched allegiance to Togo.
An attempt to get ex-Arsenal player Quincy Owusu Abeyie – born in The Netherlands to Ghanaian parents – also failed, after he opted to fight for a place in the Dutch national side.
By Michael Oti Adjei – BBC Sport, Accra