Ghana/Uganda: Black Stars Hone Goalmouth Skills for Clash With Cranes

Andre Ayew of Ghana, left, battles for the ball with Luwaga Kizoto of Uganda during the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon. Ayew sealed the match with a first-half penalty.
16 January 2017

Ghana coach Avram Grant has called for more accuracy from his strikers as they prepare to open their 2017 African Nations Cup Group D campaign against Uganda on Tuesday (16h00 GMT).

Grant has been worried about the Black Stars' wastefulness in recent matches despite numerous chances created, though they did defeat Uzbekistan club Bunyokdor in a pre-tournament friendly 2-0 thanks to goals from veteran Asamoah Gyan and Frank Acheampong.

"The team has been creating a lot of chances but has not been able to convert them, as much as I would need them to," a worried Grant told reporters.

"In our previous games, we have created a lot of chances, but the percentages on capitalising on the chances created are not good.

"Throughout our training, we have been working a lot in front of goal in finishing to fine-tune for the team and for individual players as well.

"I am glad we scored two goals from the friendly and I know we will get even better, because if you don't create chances you cannot score goals, which is very important."

Ghana were held to a 0-0 draw by Uganda in Tamale in their opening match of the World Cup qualifiers in October, which was followed by a 2-0 loss in Egypt that already puts their participation in Russia next year in serious doubt.

That followed more success for The Cranes in the qualifiers for the 2015 Nations Cup finals when they drew 1-1 in Ghana and beat them 1-0 at home, though they failed to qualify for the finals.

Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic had riled Grant when he said the Black Stars were an open book and easy to predict, but was spotted scouting them at their friendly against Bunyokdor in Dubai, much to the mirth of the Israeli coach.

"You [Sredojevic] claim to know everything about my team so why did you come to spy on us again?" Grant told reporters. "We are concentrating on the team to do a good job in Gabon."

Uganda have qualified for their first Nations Cup tournament since 1978 and are viewed as very much the minnows in a pool that also includes Mali and Egypt.

Sredojevic says that his team must take their campaign game-by-game and set small targets.

"It's a new experience in a great competition and a chance to see where we are in the development of our team," the Serbian coach says. "Given the fact that we came back after 39 years of absence to the big stage, we have to go step-by-step, goal-by-goal.

"We want to after four decades achieve the first goal, win the first point, achieve the first victory."

Sredojevic says past success against the Black Stars will have no bearing on Tuesday's game though.

"Every game is a different story. We'll see. We appreciate their qualities."

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