Gyan urges Ghana to hit Egypt hard

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - NJAB­ULO NGIDI

IF THE Egyp­tians think that Ghana will ease up on them now that the Black Stars are guar­an­teed a place in the last eight of the Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con), they have an­other thing com­ing. The Black Stars’ cap­tain, Asamoah Gyan, has promised that the Ghana­ians will look for a win here on Wed­nes­day in their last group match that will be played the same time as Uganda’s clash with Mali in Oyem.

The Ea­gles and the Pharaohs will be fighting to join Ghana in the last eight while Uganda will re­turn home af­ter the clash with Mali. Ghana have a score to set­tle with Egypt. The Pharaohs de­feated the Black Stars in the fi­nal of the 2010 Af­con, Egypt’s last ap­pear­ance in the show­piece be­fore they qual­i­fied for this edition. The seven years Egypt spent with­out fea­tur­ing in the Af­con were marred by po­lit­i­cal tur­moil in their coun­try. Egypt marked a re­turn to nor­mal­ity with a packed Borg El-Arab Sta­dium in Novem­ber, beat­ing Ghana 2-0 in the World Cup qual­i­fiers.

“The game against Egypt is a cru­cial game for us. We have to send a state­ment. We want to main­tain our 100 per­cent record, so that we can build our con­fi­dence go­ing into the quar­ter­fi­nals,” Gyan,

pic­tured, said. That state­ment should squash any spec­u­la­tions that Ghana could lose on pur­pose against Egypt to fin­ish sec­ond in Group D and move to Oyem to play the win­ner of Group C on a bet­ter pitch than the ter­ri­ble one at Stade de PortGen­til. Ghana lost Baba Ab­dul­Rah­man on that pitch af­ter he tore his ACL. Ab­dul-Rah­man is part of a grow­ing list of play­ers who have picked up in­juries in this tour­na­ment. Jonathan Pitroipa, Jonathan Zongo and Knowl­edge Mu­sona have all been in­jured. The main rea­son for that is the sand that sits at the bot­tom of most of these pitches, forc­ing the play­ers to ex­ert them­selves even more. The Black Stars showed that even though Ab­dul­Rah­man is back in Germany with his club Schalke, un­der­go­ing treat­ment there, he is still in their hearts. The play­ers raised white t-shirts, writ­ten “GET WELL BABA” af­ter Gyan scored the goal that took Ghana to the last eight.

“We promised that we would win the game against Uganda for him,” Gyan re­vealed dur­ing the post-match in­erviews. “Baba is one of our key play­ers. He is a great lad. It’s very un­for­tu­nate that he is out of the tour­na­ment. We just promised to win this game for him and that’s what we did.”

Gyan’s goal sees him boast an im­pres­sive record in the bi­en­nial, con­ti­nen­tal show­piece. He has scored in ev­ery Af­con he has played in since 2008. He is also Ghana’s all-time top in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory with eight goals. De­spite that, the 31-year-old still finds him­self be­ing sec­ond-guessed by some of his coun­try­men.

“It’s part of the game,” Gyan said. “You have to be strong men­tally. If you be­lieve in your­self, you can achieve what you want to achieve. If you pay at­ten­tion to crit­ics, it wouldn’t be a good thing for you. But some­times crit­ics also make you stronger. “Through­out my life I have been crit­i­cised. I have man­aged to over­come it ev­ery time. I have man­aged to be suc­cess­ful in life. Ev­ery­thing is go­ing well for me, he ex­plained.

“At the end of the day, af­ter foot­ball we move on to the next thing. Whilst I am still play­ing, I have to do what I need to do to lead my coun­try.”

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