Ghana will be present at the biggest soccer fiesta on the continent for the seventh time running since dropping out of the group stage in 2006 in Egypt, a tournament that was won by the host nation on penalties.
Historically, Ghana made it to the finals in the last edition in Equatorial Guinea and failed to win it through the lottery of penalty kicks, this time to the losing finalists in the 2006 edition.
The Black Stars will however be fighting to restore their lost glory at the tournament which kicks off next week with seven debutants who will be making history at the end of the tournament, whether Ghana wins or not.
Wa All Stars Goalkeeper Richard Ofori, England-based defender Andy Yiadom, Ebenezer Ofori of AIK Stockholm, Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey , Samuel Tetteh and youngster Bernard Tekpetey will all be making their maiden appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The seven players were included in Avram Grant’s 23-man squad for the competition in Gabon, an event they will be featuring in for the first time.
Regardless of the controversy which engulfed the selection of the players into the team, many are of the view that the players justified themselves in the team’s training exercises which informed their inclusion.
Ofori, reigning best goalkeeper in Ghana made the list after helping Wa All Stars to win the Ghana Premier League last season, an unprecedented achievement in the history of the club as well as all northern teams.
Andy Yiadom who plays for English Championship side Barnsley caught the eyes of Avram Grant with his performance in the Championship, playing fourteen matches in the season.
Ebenezer Ofori who represented Ghana’s U20 team at the 2013 FIFA World Youth Championship in New Zealand was named the best midfielder in the Swedish top-flight last season and his tremendous performance was so convincing that his inclusion was hailed by all.
One player whose inclusion raised eyebrows and dominated the media landscape for days, especially with the exclusion of Majeed Waris and Raphael Dwamena, after making just three appearances for Bundesliga side Schalke O4, is 19-year-old Bernard Tekpetey. He was handed a place in the final squad by the Israeli trainer and will be making history with the team regardless of the outcome.
Samuel Tetteh has been one of the budding talents in the Black Stars team since making his debut hence making the cut for the competition in Gabon.
Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey cemented a place in the team after his impressive display in Ghana’s 2-0 defeat to Egypt in a World Cup qualifier.
These seven stars will have a lot to say no matter the outcome. After the tourney they will be the story tellers, the newsmakers and surely they will dominate the headlines.
Their experience will obviously be vital to their personal development and the historical connotations of the tournament.
As Coach Avram Grant and his team will be leaving their camping base in Dubai on Friday for Gabon, and all expecting nothing but the trophy from the Black Stars, my ink is full, ready to write history. Taste and feel, then you will understand; this is surely what the seven will be saying.
By: Sheikh Tophic Sienu @desheikh1 on twitter