The Black Stars of Ghana will tomorrow, Tuesday January 17, kick off their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations campaign against the Cranes of Uganda at Stade de Port-Gentil in Gabon. Kick-off is 4pm Ghana time.
The Black Stars won four of their six games in their qualifiers and only dropped points in their draws with Mozambique and Rwanda to qualify for the Nations Cup.
Ghana have been consistent at the Nations Cup in the last five editions, finishing in the last four but the trophy has eluded the team since they last won it 35 years ago. The Black Stars have been finalists nine times, winning the trophy on four occasions – 1963, 1965, 1978, and 1982 – while missing out on the ultimate in 1968, 1970, 1992, 2010, and 2015.
However, the team has had a dry spell, having failed to win in their last five competitive matches or score goals during the period. The Stars’ poor form have seen them drop to 54th in FIFA’s world football rankings.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has encouraged the team to go for gold and end the trophy drought in this tournament.
The Black Stars have been boosted with the recovery of Andre Ayew from injury. Ayew, at his creative best, can cause problems for the Ugandan defence.
A convincing win for Ghana will most likely woo the fans who have turned their backs on the team.
Uganda’s last appearance at the tournament was in 1978, when they lost in the final to hosts Ghana. They are in the same World Cup qualifying group with the Black Stars and held the West African giants to a goalless draw at the Tamale Sports Stadium in the first game of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
The Cranes can boast of goalkeeper Dennis Onyango, an excellent shot stopper. He was named as the best African-based player of 2016 by the Confederation of African Football after helping South African club Mamelodi Sundowns to CAF Champions League glory.
Ghana will play their second game against Mali on January 21 and their final encounter will see them come up against the Pharoahs of Egypt on January 25.