Ghana's golden prospects

The last time Ghana played a tournament in South Africa the whole continent was willing them on.

That was 2010 and Africa was desperate for some home comforts after yet another disappointing showing by the African qualifiers.

You can liken the pressure the Black Stars are under to win the tournament to the intense scrutiny Brazil faced at World Cups between their 1970 and 1994 victories. The Black Stars are four-time African champions, but their last victory came in 1992 and they desperately want to add a fifth victory.

Throw into the mix a golden generation who won the Fifa under-20 World Cup in 2009 alongside players who qualified for the World Cup in both 2006 and 2010. The word on the Accra streets is ‘it’s about time’.

Ghana's form has been disjointed in 2012. They have given the advantage in their World Cup qualifying group to Zambia, although they remain firmly in the hunt for a spot in Brazil 2014. The question is what will the team take from the near miss of a first ever African World Cup semi-final place and semi-final defeat against Zambia in 2012.

A lot will depend on two names that are very familiar now. Asamoah Gyan has assumed the captaincy of the Black Stars. Gyan was top scorer in the World Cup and he is far and away their most potent goal threat. Not only is his form crucial to Ghana's success, it’s also important he feels loved as he has a tendency to throw his toys out of the pram when criticised.

Marseille’s Andre Ayew, the son of Abedi Pele, led Ghana to under-20 World Cup glory and was the BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2011. His class, too, will be needed for the Ghanaians to excel.

Followers of Italian football will be familiar with Kwadwo Asamoah of Juventus. Combining sharp technical proficiency with energy and dynamism, Asamoah is somewhere close to the complete, all-around modern midfielder.

There are some big names who haven’t made the cut. Former captain John Mensah and Marseille striker Jordan Ayew are notable absentees. Essien, now fit again at Real Madrid, has asked to be excused to concentrate on rebuilding his club career. They’ve been without him for so long however it is not the shock that it once was. Sulley Muntari also misses out having just returned from injury for Milan.

There’s always enormous pressure on the coach of Ghana when the Nations Cup comes around. You can bet it is also intensified when coaching a golden generation as its been so long since the Black Stars triumphed at the Cup of Nations. Ghana could win, but they won’t do it by much and will need everything going their way.

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