4 September 2014 18:44
Ghana are desperate to move on from their World Cup disaster when they open their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign against Uganda.
Kwesi Appiah’s men – who promised their fans a semi-final appearance in Brazil – finished bottom of their group after taking just one point from three matches.
Ghana’s World Cup was also riddled with off-field issues as the indefinite suspensions of Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng and rows over bonuses plagued their campaign.
The Ghana Football Association (GFA) claimed Muntari’s ban was down to “an unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars.”
The GFA also said Michael Essien did not join in a pre-game warm-up prior to their 2-1 defeat against Portugal at the World Cup and the issue surrounding bonuses is still clearly lingering, with forward pair Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew insisting this week that they were deserved.
As if those issues were not enough, Ghana’s government has also run the risk of drawing FIFA’s ire after opening an investigation into their poor World Cup.
Ghana president John Dramani Mahama appointed a three-man commission to probe reports and allegations relating to the debacle in Brazil but FIFA have warned the country to stay out of the GFA’s affairs.
So it is no surprise that Appiah is keen for everybody to look to the future ahead of Saturday’s clash in Kumasi, despite the frosty reception his players are expected to get as the group stages of qualifying begin.
“I urge all Ghanaians to just try and put the World Cup issues behind us [and] put our energies, support and prayers behind the national team,” Appiah told the Ghana FA’s official website.
“It’s about Ghana. Whenever we are out there, we represent the whole nation… we hope to make Ghana proud.
“I believe once the support is there, the players will also be able to give their best to erase whatever happened during the World Cup.”
It is a case of out with the old and in with the new for Appiah, who has replaced Muntari, Boateng and Essien with the likes of Jeffrey Schlupp, David Accam and Edwin Gyimah.
Gyan remains the team’s captain and after scoring twice in Brazil, is expected to lead the line in attack for the 36th-ranked nation.
Ghana – who have won the Africa Cup of Nations four times – have finished fourth at the last two tournaments, losing third-place play-offs to Mali on both occasions.
They will be confident against Uganda, who have not reached the tournament since 1978 – when they were beaten finalists.
Uganda – 81st in the FIFA rankings – lost on penalties to Zambia in their final qualifier for the 2013 edition and coach Milutin Sredojevic has dropped forwards Emmanuel Okwi and Daniel Sserunkuma for the Ghana clash.
They have already won their way through two rounds of qualifying to reach the group stages.