26 January 2014

Ghana/Congo-Kinshasa: Bring On the Leopards We Are Ready - Ghana's Opoku


Jordan Opoku captains Ghana at the Orange African Nations Championship and as he leads his team mates into a quarter-final battle against DR Congo the significance of the match is not lost on him. The Ghanaian is the only player in the current squad to have played in the 2009 side that lost (2-0) to the Leopards of Congo in the final. Come Sunday 26 January Opoku faces DR Congo again for a place in the semi-final. The skipper took time to talk to Cafonline.com ahead of the clash scheduled for Mangaung's Free State Stadium.

 How much will this match be about that result in 2009 CHAN final?

It's unavoidable that the 2009 result in the final comes to mind when you talk about Ghana versus DR Congo but that is history now and these are new players and new team, so the significance is minimal. People in Ghana expect us to win each final tournament we reach and it's no different with CHAN 2014. For me personally it would be great to gain some measure of "revenge" on that loss and l am confident we will carry the day on Sunday.

You seem confident of victory, why is that so?

It is a Ghanaian thing really. We know within ourselves how much we want to win and believe in our abilities and preparation that has gone on, to emerge victorious. Of course it will be a tough game and we are playing a good side with experience players some who were in that 2009 team. Ours is more of a youthful side but they have all been told of the importance of this match and will be ready for DR Congo.

Should you win on Sunday it's either Nigeria or Morocco awaiting in the semis, how does that prospect sit with you?

I am aware that the draw plays out this way. A clash against fellow West Africans will be a worthy derby and it will be equally tough against Morocco but for now the focus is on Sunday's match with DR Congo. We will not let ourselves be distracted from the DR Congo game but instead guard against taking the opponents lightly. By taking one game at a time we will get there but for the time being, DR Congo remains the next target to be eliminated on our journey to win CHAN 2014.

What sort of game are you expecting against DR Congo on Sunday?

One thing for sure is that it will be a tough encounter. DR Congo has experienced players a number of whom play for TP Mazembe a club with good record in continental competitions. It will be a clash of experience versus youth and l would like to say that our young side will take the game to DR Congo and we are ready to take our play to another level. You will see a different Ghana side on Sunday. The boys are fired up and mentally and physically ready to play out of their skins and go through to semis.

You played in that 2009 CHAN final defeat to DR Congo. In your opinion what happened considering you had beaten the same team in the group stage?

Looking back I think we may have gone ahead of ourselves and allowed our 3-0 win at group stage to cloud our approach and mentality in the final. Perhaps some complacency too crept in and in anyway such matches are difficult especially when you bring a positive result into the last meeting. I would like to make up for that los s and l have conveyed the desire to "avenge" that loss to my team mates who stand ready to attain victory over DR Congo.

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