President Akufo-Addo has urged the Black Stars to end the 40 trophyless years Ghana has experienced since it won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1982.
In a goodwill message to the senior national soccer team ahead of its first game, the President said although a lot is expected from them, he is optimistic the Black Stars will give their utmost best and make Ghana proud with a fifth trophy.
He wished the Milovan Rajevac-led team good luck as they come up against Morocco today at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Cameroon. It is the third game for the day.
“I send best wishes from all Ghanaians to you, the playing, technical and management team of the senior national soccer side, the Black Stars. We are all happy that finally, the AFCON 2021 tournament, which was postponed last year, is now going to be held. The coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding.
Like every other edition of AFCON, the Ghanaian people demand nothing short of ultimate glory from the stars. The pressure to succeed is understandably high because of our status as four-time winners and also because it has been forty long years since we last lifted the trophy.
The target for you, naturally, is to bring the cup home. We have to go a step further than the second places we recorded in 1992, 2010 and 2015 and bring the forty years drought to an end. The task may be daunting, but it is certainly not insurmountable. I believe that in the current crop of players, we have the talent to match any of the best teams on the continent,” he said.
According to him, Ghana is one of the favourites in the ongoing tournament; hence, “let us work to bring the prediction to fruition.”
President Akufo-Addo also entreated the players to wear the Black Star jersey with pride and determination.
“Be of one mind and spirit and be united on or off the pitch. You the current crop, wear the jersey of the Black Stars. The same jersey worn by Ghanaian legends Edward Acquah, Mohammed Salisu, Baba Yara, Abdul Razak and others,” he added.
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To the benched players, the President encouraged them to support those selected to be on the pitch wholeheartedly as such an act is the way the country can break the 40 years cup drought.
“Whether you are in the starting 11 chosen by the coach, Milovan Rajevac or not, you owe it a duty to back and support wholeheartedly your teammates representing the nation on the field. That is how a fifth AFCON trophy for mother Ghana can be achieved.”
Meanwhile, the President has advised Ghanaians to show unwavering support to the national team throughout the tournament.
He spoke against any form of attack against the team on social media platforms should matters not go as predicted.
For him, this is vital because steadfast support behind the Black Stars is how the team becomes a force to reckon with during the game.
“To you, my fellow Ghanaians, now more than ever, is the time to throw our unwavering support behind the team. Yes, I am aware there are 30 million coaches in Ghana. However, in this age of social media, we cannot allow any form of pessimism, especially in our comments, towards the team. We cannot directly or indirectly afford to break their morale.
In the highs or lows, in good or bad times, we must show the team that we are Ghanaians, and we look out for each other no matter what,” he stated.
He concluded by reiterating his confidence in the Black Stars to make 2022 the year of AFCON.
“We can make the Black Stars a force to reckon with once again on the continent and world football beginning with this tournament. Go for gold, go for the fifth AFCON trophy.
“We can do it. I know we can do it. May God bless the Black Stars and us all, and may God bless our homeland Ghana and make her great and strong. I pray we and the Black Stars have a great tournament.”
Germany wing-back Gosens joins Inter Milan from Atalanta
Inter Milan have completed the signing of Germany international Robin Gosens from Atalanta on a deal until 2026, the Italian champions announced on Thursday.
Gosens has signed a four and a half year contract in Milan and moves on loan with an obligation to buy.
The 27-year-old becomes the Serie A leaders’ first signing of the January transfer window and will compete with Ivan Perisic for the left wing-back spot in Simone Inzaghi’s side.
“I’m so proud to have joined one of the biggest clubs in Europe,” Gosens said. “I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to get started.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I didn’t need any convincing because I also know it’s a huge club.
“Some incredible German players have made history at this club. I hope to be part of that myself. That’s my ambition.”
Inter’s statement did not mention a fee, but Sky Italia reported that the buyout clause is set at 25 million euros ($27.87 million) plus three million euros in bonuses.
Gosens played a key role at Atalanta achieving three consecutive third-place finishes in Serie A, and started every match for Germany at Euro 2020 last year.
However, this season the left wing-back has been sidelined since September with a hamstring injury and is not expected to return for at least another month.
Read Also: Mane and Salah on track for AFCON final showdown
Gosens joined Atalanta from Dutch club Heracles in June 2017 and became one of the best wing-backs in Serie A.
The German’s threat going forward flourished in Gian Piero Gasperini’s attack-minded side and Gosens has scored 20 goals and provided 14 assists over the last two seasons.
He has been limited to eight appearances in all competitions this term, scoring twice, before suffering injury in a Champions League group match against Young Boys.
The Nerazzurri are four points clear in Serie A, with a game in hand over Napoli and AC Milan below them.
They face their local rivals in the Milan derby on February 5 in a key moment for the title race.
AFCON: Injury blow for AC Milan and Senegal’s Ballo-Toure
Bad news continues to arrive from the African Cup of Nations because AC Milan will be without Fode Ballo-Toure for some time.
The Milan defender suffered an adductor injury in the round of 16 game he played with Senegal at AFCON earlier this week. He came on inside the final quarter of the game but was unable to finish it, coming off in pain during the fifth minute of added time at the end of the 90.
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According to Calciomercato.com – who cite an announcement from the Senegalese Football Association – Ballo-Toure’s tournament is over and he will play no further part in his country’s run.
The statement from them explains that the injury will keep the defender out for three weeks, which is a worry for the Rossoneri given that Theo Hernandez is one yellow card away from reaching the threshold for a one-game ban, with no natural back-up aside from Ballo-Toure.
Mane and Salah on track for AFCON final showdown
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have helped Liverpool conquer England and Europe, now both crave Africa Cup of Nations winners’ medals.
Both sharpshooters will be in quarter-finals action on Sunday in Cameroon with Mane-inspired Senegal tackling surprise packets Equatorial Guinea while Salah and his Egypt teammates confront Morocco.
Mane says he would “swap all the medals he has won for a Cup of Nations gold gong” while Salah talks of the “desperation of the Egyptian people for another title” after last being champions in 2010.
If they continue winning, twice runners-up Senegal and record seven-time champions Egypt will meet in the February 6 final of the marquee African sporting event.
Here, supersport.com looks ahead to the quarterfinals with Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt and Senegal favoured, but shocks are almost inevitable in a tournament where the form book has constantly been mocked.
BURKINA FASO V TUNISIA
One of the biggest shocks came last weekend when struggling Tunisia took the lead over previously impressive Nigeria through veteran Youssef Msakni and held on for a 1-0 last-16 triumph.
The Carthage Eagles should be stronger on Saturday as they welcome back head coach Mondher Kebaier and several stars, including captain and forward Wahbi Khazri, who have recovered from coronavirus.
Tunisia have been unpredictable and are the only quarterfinalists to lose twice in Cameroon, but Burkina Faso have been equally hard to judge when winning once, drawing twice and losing once.
The countries have met twice at the last-eight stage with the Stallions winning both and hopes of a ‘hat-trick’ will hinge heavily on how well captain and Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore performs.
CAMEROON V GAMBIA
Five-time champions Cameroon have scored nine goals in four outings — the most of any contender — but the Indomitable Lions are also the only one of the quarter-finalists to concede in every match.
Six of the goals have come from captain and tournament chart-topper Vincent Aboubakar and fellow forward Karl Toko Ekambi has netted the other three, so Gambia know where the main threats will come from.
Debutants Gambia have been the surprise team among the 24 qualifiers, defying being ranked 150th in the world to remain unbeaten and conceding only once, from a penalty.
Musa Barrow from Italian Serie A club Bologna has become an overnight star in Cameroon and Ablie Jallow is another Gambian Cameroon need to shackle.
EGYPT V MOROCCO
This showdown between north African giants stands out as the highlight of the four quarter-finals with Morocco holding a 3-2 lead from previous Cup of Nations tournament clashes.
Egypt showed the defensive solidity the country is famed for when holding a star-studded Ivory Coast attack goalless in the round of 16 before winning on penalties.
Salah works tirelessly but has scored only once in Cameroon — the winner against Guinea-Bissau — and the extra shooting practice ordered by coach Carlos Queiroz has yet to deliver dividends.
Morocco boast potential match-winners in forwards Youssef En-Nesyri and Sofiane Boufal while last-16 victims Malawi will attest to the free-kick expertise of Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA V SENEGAL
Mane says he is “very well” and “what does not kill you makes you stronger” amid concerns that he may have been concussed in a collision with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha in a laboured last-16 win.
Read Also: AFCON: Egypt quarterfinal clash with Morocco moved forward by CAF
Only when the Cape Verdeans were reduced to nine men by two red cards did Senegal score, and they have failed to find the net in two of four matches.
But a defence marshalled by Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly with Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy behind him has not conceded a goal — they are the only quarter-finalists to achieve four clean sheets.
Having ended the 35-match unbeaten run of Algeria and upset Mali after a shoot-out, the Equatoguineans will look to outstanding central defenders Saul Coco and Esteban Obiang to contain Mane.
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