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Appiah content despite semi-final loss

Ghana coach James Appiah is pleased his side reached the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals despite aiming to win the tournament.

Burkina Faso surprisingly eliminated Ghana on Wednesday, winning their semi-final in Nelspruit 3-2 on penalties after the encounter had finished locked at 1-1.

Ghana will be aiming to secure third spot when they take on Mali on Saturday and Appiah said his inexperienced squad had done well in South Africa.

“It’s a long time – 31 years – since we last won the cup,” Appiah said.

“I took over the position around 10 months ago and coming into this competition I came in with 11 players who have never played in this competition before. I’m trying to build a new team for the nation.

“For me, they did very well in getting to the semi-finals. Our main aim was of course to win it. Unfortunately, when it comes to penalties anything can happen.”

Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah said his team had expected to overcome Burkina Faso, but urged them to move on from the loss.

“What happened two days ago is part of the game, as a player and sportsman you have to accept defeat,” he said.

“Although we were not expecting that, we have to accept it and move on with our lives.

“We have another game ahead of us, we can use this game to calm and relax us before we go back to our clubs.”

Ghana, runners-up in 2010, finished third in 2008 before losing 2-0 to Mali in the third-place playoff at last year’s tournament.

Mali coach Patrice Carteron, whose team were beaten 4-1 by Nigeria in their semi-final, said they had already exceeded expectations.

“Defeat is difficult because when you get in the semi-finals we all dream of playing a final in Johannesburg,” he said.

“We had this dream when we beat South Africa, but in our defeat we should not forget the positive things.

“Having reached the semi-finals for the second year in a row is a feat because countries like Zambia, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Tunisia have not.

“In Mali, it is already an achievement. Even if we are disappointed, we will give the maximum tomorrow to win the bronze medal.”

Sat 9 February, 2013
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