James Abankwah makes first Serie A start for Udinese against Juventus

James Abankwah

James Abankwah Credit: Liam Coughlan (ETPhotos)

Republic of Ireland Under-19 captain, James Abankwah, played his first Serie A game as a starter this evening against Italian giants Juventus.

The 19-year-old was part of a back three with Argentinian international Nehuén Pérez and debutante Frenchman Axel Guessand.

Abankwah played for 59 minutes in his debut start before being replaced by another debutante, 19-year-old Nicolò Cocetta.

Abankwah's early exit due to an apparent injury is likely to be of concern to Jim Crawford, who is soon to name his squad for the upcoming June fixtures against Gabon, Kuwait, and Ukraine.

During the match, the Irishman had 34 touches of the ball and achieved a passing accuracy of 71.4% with 15 passes, although he lost possession six times.

The former Pats defender made three clearances, blocked two shots, winning two aerial and ground duels, and wasn’t dribbled past one.  

Before tonight, Abankwah had played just four minutes of Serie A action this season, coming on as an 86th minute substitute against Bologna in February.

His Irish compatriot, Festy Ebosele, on the other hand, had made 17 appearances for I Bianconeri this season, starting four games, playing a total of 401 minutes, and recording one assist.

Abankwah, a promising talent, was signed by Udinese from St Patrick’s Athletic last January for an undisclosed fee . He was immediately loaned back to the Dublin-based club to complete his Leaving Certificate.

The Irish youth international made his professional debut for the Saints in July 2021, coming on against Derry City to replace Alfie Lewis.

Abankwah became a regular starter towards the end of the season and started the 2021 FAI Cup Final, a match that saw St. Pats lift the prestigious cup for only the fourth time.

During the 2021 season, Abankwah made 13 appearances, and a total of 25 for Pats before his move to Italy this year.