Black Stars head coach Otto Addo has decided to leave out team captain Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew from the squad for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Ghana will face Mali and the Central African Republic.

Ayew, who holds the record as Ghana’s most-capped player with 120 appearances since his debut in 2007, has been omitted from a 26-man squad set to compete in next month’s crucial qualifiers.

Addressing the media after announcing the squad, Coach Addo admitted that excluding Ayew was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make.

The former Borussia Dortmund player and coach praised the 34-year-old, describing him as a living legend who has significantly contributed to Ghanaian football.

“I had a long talk with Dede Ayew. I visited him and gave him reasons why he is not in my squad at the moment,” said Addo.

“It is very difficult to leave him out but at the end, it’s me as the coach who has to take decisions and those decisions must be the best for the team.

“Personally, I like Dede as a person and also as a player, but this is a decision we took and not one he totally agreed.”

Ayew recently made history at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) held in Côte d’Ivoire, becoming only the third player to participate in eight editions of the tournament.

This achievement places him alongside Cameroonian legend Rigobert Song and Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan.

As Ghana prepares for its World Cup qualifying campaign, the decision to leave out such a seasoned player as Ayew underscores the evolving dynamics within the team.