29 January 2013

Ghana/Niger: Black Stars Finally Shine At Afcon

Photo: Luigi Bennett/Backpagepix
Rising Ghanaian star Christian Atsu scores against Niger.

Ghana have finally flexed their muscles at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after a commanding 3-0 victory over Niger on Monday their sealed their status as Group B winners.

It sets up a quarter-final with minnows Cape Verde, another game the Black Stars will expect to win, and coach Kwesi Appiah will be delighted with the performance of the team.

Ghana made a sluggish start to the competition, with star striker Asamoah Gyan coming in for criticism from all quarters. But he scored the opening goal and set up the other two to silence the doubters and announce, just perhaps, that he is back to his best form.

“I am delighted we have qualified, but it was not easy," Appiah said.

“Niger was a good team, they defended well. But my players stepped up their performance and that resulted in Niger not coming out as they are used to.

“We got an early goal and that settled us down and I thought that we did very well. There is still room for improvement, we are still a developing team but we are halfway through and can do much better.”

Gyan told reporters after the match that he was focused on team success and not personal accolades, but it still must have been something of a relief to break his duck.

“I like to play for the team. As a striker definitely people will be expecting you to score, but my ambition is to help my team to win.

Anytime I can't score I try to open chances for my colleagues to score,” he said.

“I said to myself the right time will come and I think today was the right time. Looking at the game I created the second goal and then even the third goal.”

Niger go home at least having gained their first-ever Nations Cup point from their 0-0 draw with DR Congo, but they were outclassed by the powerful Black Stars, who Niger coach Gernot Rohr says can go all the way.

"We have to admit that we played a team that was a little bit faster than us," Rohr said. “For me, I really think Ghana can win this tournament.”

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