Soccer News of Saturday, 17 January 2015
Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan is hoping he can add a happy chapter to his Africa Cup of Nations story when he leads the Black Stars in Equatorial Guinea.
The 29-year-old will be attending his fifth Nations Cup finals and is keen for it to be a positive one given his chequered history with the tournament.
Ghana have been handed a tough draw for the tournament in Group C with Africa’s top-ranked side Algeria, Senegal, who are also among the top ten sides on the continent, as well as South Africa, who reached the competition unbeaten.
But even that has not shaken Gyan’s early confidence, despite the cautious tone of the Ghana Football Association which has said new coach Avram Grant must “do well” at the tournament and suggested asking him to win it will be unrealistic.
“All three countries in our group are in very good form,” Gyan told BBC Sport.
“South Africa did not lose a single game and Algeria have been very, very good.
“They are all looking great and that will make the tournament very difficult for us but we are confident.
“We are going to Equatorial Guinea to win the trophy. It is the attitude we go to every tournament with.
“ It is always as simple as that. A lot will depend on us, the players, and hopefully we can make things easy for the new coach.” he added.
Gyan has experienced more than most at the Nations Cup.
In 2008 Ghana failed to deliver on home soil and Gyan came in for severe personal criticism after failing to score. He says it drove him to the point of wanting to quit the team’s camp.
“I am mentally strong now because of that tournament in 2008,” he said. “It was the first time I had to deal with intense criticism. It hurt me but made me a strong man.
“ Every time I go onto the field now it is between me and my critics. That is how I psyche myself these days.”
Gyan returned to the Nations Cup two years later and was Ghana’s star man, scoring winning goals against Angola and Nigeria in the quarter-final and semi-final as the Black Stars reached the final.
Although they lost the final 1-0 to Egypt, Gyan thought he had rid himself of his personal Nations Cup demons.
Instead they were to return with a vengeance in 2012.
Ghana had been tipped to beat Zambia in the semi-finals but Gyan missed an early penalty and his side went on to lose 1-0. It was a second helping of spot-kick misery for Gyan, who also failed to convert in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Uruguay, who went on to win the game.
Gyan says the failure to convert the penalty at the Nations Cup hurt more than the miss against Uruguay.