Soccer News of Sun, 15 Jan 201218
Ghana gunning for fifth Afcon title
Ghana will be expected to now fulfil the huge promise they showed by reaching the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup with a fifth African title.
The last time the Black Stars were African champions was in 1982, but the team have shown signs they are back at the top when the qualified for their first World Cup five years ago and went past the group stage in Germany.
They were only a kick away from the last four of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and finished top of a qualifying group that included Sudan and Congo to qualify for their 18th Nations Cup.
Ukraine-based midfielder Derek Boateng has backed Serbian coach Goran Stevanovic to end the country’s 30-year trophy drought.
"He is the right man for the job. He loves and respects the players," remarked Boateng, whose own international career has been revived by the Serbian.
"Before a game he tells us victory is for us. This is something only a few coaches will tell their players."
Stevanovic was appointed in January 2011 and under him, Ghana have won six matches, drawn one and lost twice.
However, the country will again be without their top star, Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien as he has continued to be dogged by long-term injuries and has again been ruled out of the forthcoming tournament.
Also not available is AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, who has called time on his international career after he featured at the last World Cup.
Striker Asamoah Gyan shouldered a lot of responsibilities as a youthful Black Stars team reached the final of the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola.
His commitment to the national team cause has never been in doubt, but he is now in a race to be fit for the Nations Cup after he suffered a hamstring injury in action for his United Arab Emirates club recently.
However, the most exciting addition to the squad is Norway-based goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, who has been picked ahead of long-time No.1 Richard Kingson. Kingson has struggled in his club career and was not picked for the tournament.
Another addition is FC St. Pauli midfielder Charles Takyi. He made his Ghana debut against Gabon in November after Fifa granted his wish to switch allegiance after he played for the Germany Under 21s.
Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew has made a remarkable progress from the youngster, whose inclusion for the 2008 tournament was criticised by the fans, to a genuine super star who was nominated for the 2011 CAF African Footballer of the Year.
It remains to be seen though whether he and younger brother Jordan, who features for Marseille, will go on to surpass the exploits of their father, the legendary Abedi Pele Ayew.
Others in the new generation of Ghana stars are Kwadwo Asamoah and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, who were both at Angola 2010 and have propelled Udinese to the top bracket in the Italian top flight this season.
The Black Stars finalised their preparations for the competition with a residential training in South Africa.