Ghana coach Avram Grant says qualifying the Black Stars for the Nations Cup final when no one expected him to, ranks as one of his biggest achievement as a coach. And that for a man who took Chelsea to the champions league final.
The Israeli was the choice of the Ghana Football Association to succeed Kwesi Appiah last November after a long search and will lead the tea out on Sunday in search of ending Ghana’s 33-year wait for a Nations Cup title.
The former Chelsea boss is proud of what he has achieved and simply refuses to let the shameful scenes at the Estadio de Malabo where the game was halted for more than half an hour to dilute that joy.
‘It was a shame for football. It was 3-0; we were close to four or five so it stopped us. I don’t want to speak about violence. At the end of the day football is supposed to bring joy so let’s not give the hooligans the joy they want by talking about the violence and not the football,’ Grant said.
No foreign coach has achieved Nations Cup glory with Ghana whose record in tournament finals has not been great either. Sunday will be the country’s ninth appearance in a Nations Cup final, a tournament record with the Black Stars winning only four of the previous eight. The last two appearances in the finals in 1992 and 2010 have both ended in defeats.
Grant will be hoping to change that against the Ivory Coast who themselves are hoping to be third time lucky in the Nations Cup final.
‘It will be tough for us and tough for them too. They have big and established players against us with many promising ones. They have Kalou on the bench which shows their quality. But we have shown a lot of quality here and want to win,’ he said.
Whatever happens on Sunday Grant is delighted with the way his Ghana project is going.
He said: ‘I think it is very important to have a process. It is a young team but progress has been good. The players showed two things; first the mentality has been great. We lost the first game and then recovered very well. The second and third game tested us. In the last two games we have scored six goals and not conceded [none]. The most important thing is that we are improving after every game. We are learning from the games
‘Everyone needs to be proud of these players. Nobody gave them a chance. They have showed they can fight not only for themselves but for the nation. The people in Ghana can see there is a good mentality. They know they have a team for now and for the future.’
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