Black Stars coach, Kwasi Appiah, believes his team are in the best of shapes to deliver against Benin in their opening Group F Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) encounter at the Ismailia Stadium today.
Coach Appiah, who lost his last AFCON game to Burkina Faso in 2013, described tonight’s fixture as very competitive but was hopeful his side would deliver, having prepared fully.
The Black Stars are hoping to commence their AFCON campaign on a bright note by ensuring a convincing victory over the Squirrels of Benin.
Having gone without a victory in their preparatory games prior to the continental competition, the Stars must work on their finishing and coach Appiah must work on getting the best out of his strikers against Benin.
In a pre-match press conference yesterday, Appiah remained confident his side would record a vital win over their opponents as they prepare to avoid being complacent.
He, however, described his team’s opponents in Group F as strong but remained optimistic about his side’s chances considering their level of preparation.
“Since we arrived, everything has been going well, I believe today’s game will be very competitive and we are fully prepared.
“Modern football has changed and there is no way you can underrate any team but I believe in my players and I have full confidence that they will deliver,” the Ghana coach said.
“All the teams in our group are strong but the most important thing is preparing well to face them and that’s what we have done,” he added.
Ghana, looking for their fifth AFCON title, remain favourites to carry the day over Benin with statistics favouring them with seven victories, two losses and five draws.
The Stars have been tasked to end the nation’s 37-year wait for the continental title with two recent final defeats to Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2015 editions of the AFCON.
Skipper of the Stars, Andre Ayew, said his side were focused on approaching a game at a time and noted that they were ready to work harder to achieve results.
Ayew, 29, called on his teammates to avoid being complacent as that could affect their chances of returning home with the title.
“I am very confident because we are coming into the tournament with good preparations and I believe in my team that we will work hard and get results match after match,” Ayew said.
Meanwhile, Benin coach, Michel Dussuyer, has lamented his influential captain, Stephane Sessegnon, missing out against Ghana due to accumulation of cards in the qualifiers but was hopeful the team could cope during his absence.
Coach Dussuyer praised his Ghanaian opponents of possessing experience and talent advantage over his squad and called on the Squirrels to play as a unit and win.
“Ghana is full of experience and talent and is capable of reaching the final and winning the title but even with the difference in quality, our goal is to win.
“Stephane Sessegnon will impact the team but we are a unit and will find a replacement,” the Frenchman added.