Ghana gunning for fifth Afcon title

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ACCRA Ghana will be expected to now fulfil the huge promise they showed by reaching the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup with a fifth African title.

The last time the Black Stars were African champions was in 1982, but the team have shown signs they are back at the top when they qualified for their first World Cup five years ago and went past the group stage in Germany.

They were only a kick away from the last four of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and finished top of a qualifying group that included Sudan and Congo to qualify for their 18th Nations Cup (Afcon).

Ukraine-based midfielder Derek Boateng has backed Serbian coach Goran Stevanovic to end the countrys 30-year trophy drought.

He is the right man for the job. He loves and respects the players, remarked Boateng, whose own international career has been revived by the Serbian.

Before a game he tells us victory is for us. This is something only a few coaches will tell their players.
However, the country will again be without their top star, Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, as he has continued to be dogged by long-term injuries and has again been ruled out of the forthcoming tournament.

Also not available is AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, who has called time on his international career after he featured at the last World Cup.

Striker Asamoah Gyan shouldered a lot of responsibilities as a youthful Black Stars team reached the final of the 2010 Afcon in Angola.

Others in the new generation of Ghana stars are Kwadwo Asamoah and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, who have propelled Udinese to the top bracket in the Italian top flight this season.

The Black Stars finalised their preparations for the competition with a residential training in South Africa.