26
Sun, Mar

AFCON kicks-off Saturday - Black Stars on redemption mission

Andre Dede Ayew, Ghana

The Gabonese capital of Libreville is where the world’s attention would be focused on come Saturday, January 14, 2017 as a colourful opening ceremony is expected to herald the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nation (AFCON).

Unlimited excitement awaits football fans as this will afford the continent an opportunity to showcase some of the finest talents as 16 strong football nations battle for the ultimate and also to dethrone defending champions, Cote d’Ivoire.

As expected, Gabonese President, Ali Bongo and Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) President, Issa Hayatou, would be among the special guests to grace the occasion which would see host nation, Gabon, open their campaign for the trophy against Guinea Bissau.

Both teams are not considered among the heavyweights of Africa football but their game would set the tone for the quality of football games that would follow in the next three weeks.

Ghanaians would, particularly, be keen on the Black Stars game against the Cranes of Uganda on Tuesday when Ghana attempt to exorcise that ghost that has haunted and prevented them from beating the Ugandans in recent times.

The Ugandans have been a stubborn nut to crack for the Star and Avram Grant and his charges would be expecting to redeem their image this time around knowing how the Cranes battle them to a goalless draw game last October in Ghana during their World Cup qualifying game.

With that in mind, Grant looks determined to rewrite the script against the East African side and has, therefore, sent a strong warning to the opponents to be ready because they might not be third time lucky.

His confidence came after accessing his squad during a friendly game against Uzbekistani side, Bunyodkor, in Dubai over the week, which has convinced the Israeli trainer that the team has taken a good shape ready to launch a bid for the elusive trophy for well over three decades.

This time around, he has plugged all loopholes and not even perennial nemesis, Uganda, can stand in their way in their attempt to end Ghana’s 35-year trophy drought.

Certainly, with Andre Ayew, Baba Rahman, Harrison Afful, Mubarak Wakaso, Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan all in top shape, victory beckons the Black Stars as they aspire to start the tournament on a flying note.