Ghana are the third most successful team in the history of Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) having won four titles with only Egypt (seven) and Cameroon (five) claiming more.
However, their last title was 36 years ago and since then, they have had to watch as eight other countries shared the 18 titles that followed, a low point for a country blessed with rich football talent.
Since that 1982 triumph, the Black Stars have had some good teams that promised so much, more so the ‘Golden Generation’ that took the world by storm from 2010 onwards.
That generation includes the now retired Jonathan Mensah, Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien, to name just but a few, and while they failed to end the long wait, those who came after them have equally struggled to live up to the expectations.
The next class has veteran striker Asamoah Gyan, Andre and Jordan Ayew who are now in a race against time to make it happen before they hang up their boots in a few years’ time.
Indeed, Gyan who has featured in seven Afcon tournaments since his debut in 2006, admits the drought has been painful.
“It has been frustrating for me and for the team not to win the Afcon title. We play our hearts out in every tournament but we have been unlucky. I know we will win it again one day and I hope it will happen during my time as a player,” Gyan told People Wikendi during the team’s training session at Utalii grounds in Nairobi ahead of their 2019 Afcon qualifier against Ethiopia Sunday.
To do that, Gyan and co will first have to qualify for the 2019 edition in Cameroon as they are third in Group F with three points behind leaders Kenya (seven) and Ethiopia (four), needing a win in Addis Ababa to get their campaign back on track.
No one knows the pain of coming so close and then missing as Gyan, Ghana’s all-time leading scorer with 51 goals. He was part of the 2010 and 2015 teams that lost Afcon finals. In 2010, he scored Ghana’s winning goal in the semi-finals against Nigeria, sending his team to the finals where they lost to Egypt 1-0 and in 2015, the Black Stars lost 9-8 on post-match penalties to Ivory Coast after a barren draw in 90 minutes and extra time.
Meanwhile, Gernot Rohr said Saturday’s crucial Afcon qualifier will be the most difficult game against South Africa for his depleted Super Eagles side.
Defender Shehu Abdulahi, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho and striker Odion Ighalo are sidelined by injury, while Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is suspended.
The three-time African champions, who arrived in South Africa early Friday, are top of Group E with nine points from four matches, while South Africa are second on eight points.
A point will be enough to secure Nigeria’s qualification for next year’s African Cup of Nations, while Bafana Bafana may need to win to guarantee their qualification.
Liberia vs Zimbabwe (7pm)
Guinea vs Ivory Coast (8pm)
Mauritania vs Botswana (8pm)