Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan is determined to seize another chance for Africa Cup of Nations glory by defeating Cameroon in Thursday’s semi-final.
The Black Stars have reached this stage in each of the last six tournaments but have not lifted the trophy since 1982 and were beaten by Ivory Coast in the final of 2015.
Avram Grant’s side, who beat DR Congo 2-1 in the last round, have looked one of the most convincing in Gabon but they have a poor record against Cameroon in the competition, having failed to win any of their three previous encounters.
But Gyan, who hopes to be available following a groin problem, is confident that they can find a way past a team who upset favourites Senegal in the quarter-finals on penalties.
“The team is motivated and what we want is a win against Cameroon, who have been playing as a unit,” he said, as quoted by SuperSport.
“We all know many people thought Senegal would beat them but they proved a hard nut to crack.
“It doesn’t really matter how we play as long as we get that win, because we feel it’s time we make our fans happy by going all the way in the tournament. That’s our main focus.”
Fabrice Ondoa saved a penalty from Liverpool’s Sadio Mane to see Cameroon into the last four at Senegal’s expense and continue their unlikely push for the trophy.
Head coach Hugo Broos is already proud of his young side but says they proved with their quarter-final display that they will be no pushovers against a fancied Ghana side.
“It looks a very difficult game,” he said. “When you look at the Ghanaians, who have been in the semi-finals for the last six tournaments, it means that they’re a team constantly on with their job.
“It’s a very young team. Fourteen of my players have never played at the tournament.
“But when I look at them, I’m very happy with their level of progress. Our motivation is very big. We saw that against Senegal.”
The feeling… pic.twitter.com/gU5D1E7LJZ
— Ghana FA (@ghanafaofficial) January 30, 2017
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cameroon – Fabrice Ondoa
Cameroon have faced a battle to reach this stage, having scraped out of the group with a 0-0 draw against hosts Gabon before a penalty shootout win over favourites Senegal.
Goalkeeper Ondoa saved the crucial spot-kick from Sadio Mane in the quarter-final and he can expect to be busy once again on Thursday against a side boasting formidable attacking strength.
He may have only faced six shots on target during those last two goalless draws, but a last-minute block to deny Didier Ndong saw Cameroon progress beyond the group stage, proving he is unlikely to be caught out by a loss of concentration at this late stage of the tournament.
Ghana – Mubarak Wakaso
Midfielder Wakaso played a key role in their quarter-final triumph, setting up Jordan Ayew for the opening goal, but he generally saves his best for the semi-finals of these finals.
The 26-year-old, who joined Granada on loan on transfer deadline day, has scored in each of Ghana’s last two appearances at this stage of the tournament, against Equatorial Guinea in 2015 and Burkina Faso two years earlier.
His last goal came in a 1-1 friendly draw with South Africa in October, but few would bet against Wakaso rising to the occasion for the third semi-final in a row.
KEY OPTA STATS
– This is a re-run of the 2008 African Cup of Nations semi-final; Cameroon claimed a 1-0 victory on that occasion prior to losing in the final.
– The last three times Cameroon reached the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations, they have progressed to the final.
– Cameroon’s last four goals at the AFCON have all come from outside the box while the last three conceded by Ghana have been from outside the penalty area.
– Cameroon come into this game without a goal in their last two AFCON matches, failing to score with any of their last 23 shots in the tournament.
– Cameroon’s Benjamin Moukandjo has created 15 chances in the 2017 African Cup of Nations; four more than any other player.
– At least one of the Ayew brothers has been directly involved in 10 of Ghana’s last 14 goals at the AFCON (five goals and two assists for Andre, two goals and an assist for Jordan – never assisting each other in that time).
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