Ghana bank on Gyan
Franceville - Ghana will again be counting on goals by star striker Asamoah Gyan to get them past debutants Botswana in an Africa Cup of Nations Group D match here Tuesday.
UAE-based striker Gyan has recovered fully from a hamstring injury he suffered in club action to score in the team’s final warm-up game against South African club Platinum Stars.
Two years ago, the striker the fans know as ‘Baby Jet’ scored against both hosts Angola and perennial arch-rivals Nigeria to propel a youthful Black Stars to the final, where they lost by a lone goal to Egypt.
Goal scoring has been Ghana's achilles' heel since the days of the likes of Opoku Afriyie, George Alhassan, Abedi Pele and Anthony Yeboah and for this tournament they are again looking very thin in this department.
The other strikers in the squad are the unreliable Prince Tagoe, who must be short in confidence after getting knocks for his lack of goals for the country, and Marseille youngster Jordan Ayew.
It is in midfield that Ghana have been strongest with the Udinese pair of Asamoah Kwadwo and Emmanuel Agyemang Badu weighing in with some goals and holding forth along with the experienced Sulley Muntari.
The Black Stars will be without Hoffenheim central defender Vorsah for Tuesday’s clash as he is under suspension for his red card in the final qualifier in Sudan in October.
Skipper John Mensah, whose fitness remains a serious concern after a recent long injury layoff, will now have to play alongside namesake Jonathan in the heart of the defence.
The problematic left back position would either be manned by youngster Daniel Opare, who is really a right back, or the recently capped Massawudu Alhassan.
The Zebras of Botswana, on the other hand, have bar injured winger Joel Mongorosi a full complement of the team who qualified for their first-ever Nations Cup in style.
Mongorosi was a good foil for the team’s top scorer in the qualifiers with five-goal Jerome Ramatlhakwana, who coach Stanley Tshosane has said has regained full match fitness following a contractual dispute with his South African club.
Botswana trained in South Africa and Cameroon ahead of this tournament. They held Nigeria complete with their European-based players to a goalless draw in friendly in Benin City, southern Nigeria.
A final warm-up game against Zimbabwe in Gaborone was disrupted by a pay row as the players demanded for huge bonuses which the authorities refused.
The experience of skipper Diphetogo Selolwane, who has featured in the league in the United States of America and now features for top South African club Supersport United, will be crucial for the Zebras at this tournament.