Its been 31 years since Ghana lifted her fourth Nations Cup. The last was 1982 when most of the buzzing youth of today were not born.
In 2010, the Ghana Black Stars came close to the cup in Angola but were beaten by a lone goal from an experienced Egyptian side. It was super-sub Mohammed Gedo of Egypt who scored that goal at the grand finale against a relatively young Black Stars team without super stars such as Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari who were at peak form. Indeed most did not expect the team at the time to go far in that tournament.
Due to the Black Stars’ closeness to the cup in Angola, they were tipped most favorite when the tournament was co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012. Yes once again the Black Stars were at the semi-finals after beating Tunisia at the quarter-finals. The team however lost in the semis to Zambia who eventually beat a star-studded Ivory Coast team at the final on penalties to win the cup for the first time.
Many say Zambia winning the 2012 AFCON Cup in February was by an act of destiny because where the final match was played (Libreville) was where the 1993 Zambian team died in a plane crash.
AFCON is back again. The tournament was originally to be hosted by Libya but due to disturbances in that country which led to the death of their leader Muammar Khaddafi, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) chose South Africa to host the 2013 edition.
The tournament started yesterday January 19, 2012 on a barren note where the first two Group A games of Day One ended goalless. South Africa played Cape Verde and Morocco took on Angola.
Hopeful of breaking the jinx and bringing home the cup as put by skipper Asamoah Gyan, Ghana today begins their campaign in Group B at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth against DR Congo which is coached by Claude LeRoy, a former coach of the Black Stars. LeRoy handled the Ghana team during AFCON 2008 where the Black Stars placed third after beating Ivory Coast at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
“I’m very hopeful we can break the jinx and end the long wait for the African title,” Gyan told the Ghana FA website.
Yes the Stars have shown some signs of their thirst to end the cup drought. At their two friendlies played in Abu Dhabi, the Black Stars won 3-0 against African giant Egypt. With Tunisia, the Ghana team came from 2-0 down to win by 4-2, a comeback score line many Ghanaians have seen in a long time with the senior national football men’s team.
Going into the DR Congo game, Asamoah Gyan has expressed confidence in the Ghana team.
According to Gyan, the team is really prepared to start their campaign on a very high note saying “…everyone is as well but I must say we are really prepared.”
The Al Ain striker told the website of the Ghana FA that “The confidence level is high and all the players are ready.”
Even though the team is without the likes of Dede Ayew, Jordan Ayew and Sulley Muntari, Gyan genuinely believes coach Kwesi Appiah’s Black Stars possess the quality to compete.
“The quality we have, I don’t doubt. We don’t have fear. We have quality players,” Gyan was quoted as saying.
Out of the 23-man Ghana squad, ten are debutants at the Nations Cup.
Expectations from “broken-heart” Ghanaians are quiet high and the Black Stars know that anything short of bringing home the cup will not appease the home fans.
With a Ghanaian in charge, many believe the Black Stars can win the cup since all four was won when a local coach was handling the side.
As to whether they will bring home the trophy, today will show the path.
But Ghanaians must remember that the road to the final is very short but difficult.
By Ekow Quandzie