The Black Stars of Ghana commence their journey towards a 5th African Cup triumph later today when they lace up their boots to take on the Cranes of Uganda in their first game of the ongoing tournament.
The Stars need a win in the game (kick off at 1600 GMT) to get off their tournament to a blistering start ahead of tougher games against Mali and Egypt later in the tournament.
Ghana, losing finalists in 2015, come into the tournament on a rotten run which includes no win in our last four competitive games, encompassing a rotten start to world cup qualifying which has yielded just one point out of two games. This has led to apathy from the fans towards the team and hostility to coach Avram Grant, who is viewed as simply too lazy to take his job seriously.
Thus Ghana enters the tournament at a low point in terms of fan engagement, generating little excitement among the populace. But the team has to hunker down and get on with the job of beating a team who has become something of a bogey side.
Uganda held Ghana to a stubborn 0-0 draw at the start of world cup qualifying, a result that has put our qualification to the next mundial into jeopardy. Difficult to break down, they are likely to adopt the same strategy for today’s game and Ghana risks another shutout, or even a loss, if the team does not change their approach and inject more urgency into their build up play.’
This tournament has already thrown up some curveballs, with the supposed favourites having a hard time putting the ‘minnows’ to the sword. Zimbabwe played Algeria off the park in their 2-2 draw and champions Cote d’Ivoire failed to put Togo away as they played a dour goalless draw. Ghana risks becoming the next top team that fails to win a must win game.
Before the tournament began, President Nana Akufo-Addo admonished the team break the 34 year drought in winning a major trophy, stretching all the way back to the 1982 African Cup. To achieve that goal, Ghana requires a blistering start tonight to build confidence and place one foot in the next round of the competition.
Ghana vrs Uganda kicks off at 1600 GMT. Group opponents Mali and Egypt tackle each other in the late night game, kick off at 1900 GMT.