Images of Asamoah Gyan consoling Dede Ayew after Egypt pipped Ghana to the AFCON title two years ago are still vividly displayed in our minds and today’s encounter gives Ghana a second chance to try and get to the final and even win it. On the other hand, Zambia have never won this tournament and the last two times they featured at the finals they only managed second place and had to sadly watch twice another team lift the trophy over their heads. I don’t know what the name Ivory Coast spells out for you, but for me, it’s the powerhouse of football, they have won all their matches, conceded none and the talent in this team is just exceptional. Step forward Mali, most of us just remember their antics in that match against Angola in 2010, a 4-4 draw and hey!, 2 years later they have a chance to go for it by just only beating Ivory coast and setting a date with either Ghana or Zambia.
It’s most people’s prediction that Ghana would face Ivory coast at the final but with all due respect, Zambia and Mali are no mean pushovers. Zambia have proved to Africa they mean business and if what every superstitious character is afraid of takes place tomorrow, then the Zambians courtesy of the ‘Lucky white shirt’ of the coach will carry the day and spoil the dream final of many fans. Mali would have pulled off one of the greatest results of the tournament by beating Ivory Coast to reach the final. Straight forward to some of the reasons I think Ghana should meet Ivory Coast at the AFCON finals.
1. You are all good, but to be the best you have to win.
The talent in these two teams is immense and the fact that they have won nothing in a while is something they would want to correct very fast. Both teams have shown the hunger and thirst to go all the way to the final and pick the trophy. They might be the best on paper, but just like the last two AFCON’s, Egypt came and beat them to the title. Should any of them not win the title then it would be an underachievement on their part and West Africa would probably be disappointed again.
2. Drogba needs to repay that penalty he lost against Egypt in 2006 and Gyan needs to pay for that World Cup penalty.
When Drogba stepped up to take that penalty in 2006 against Egypt, the optimism in most Drogba’s fans faces was great and the moment he shot wide, hell came down, Pharaoh triumphed over Moses and the whole of Egypt celebrated as silence prevailed from Yamoussoukro to Abidjan. Drogba became the villain but he has another chance should they progress to the finals.
South Africa, 2010, when all the African teams had bowed out except Ghana and when the whole continent were just waiting for history to finally smile on us, cheeky Suarez steps forward, cheats us off a goal with his two tiny hands and Gyan is called upon to take the resulting spot kick. The whole of Africa stands, waits in abated breath, I close my eyes, I open it a bit, and when I see the woodwork appreciating, Suarez jumping in Joy and Gyan staring into blank space I know here we go, we might just be out and true to my thoughts that day, it was the end of our World cup. Him too he has a chance of redeeming himself, his country and his fans by leading Ghana to the finals.
3. West Africa has waited for too long for this trophy
Ghana were last crowned champions of Africa in 1982, whereas Cote d’Ivoire last saw it in 1992, most of this players who play in this tournament now were by then kids and maybe could have not enjoyed the occasion. Probably the best two teams West Africa has produced in a while, the last time the Afcon was in this part of the tournament was in 1994 when Nigeria brought it home. Since then, North Africa has dominated and with the absence of Egypt, Tunisia and Co, all the Western part of Africa has to do is to wait and pray the trophy comes back.
Until then, we just have to wait and see who gets to the final and what conspires in the Semis. Zambia are capable of causing an upset any day, the same applies to Mali whose method of winning is not so well defined but the results is what matter at this stage of the tournament. Will the Copper bullets get to the stars or will the Elephants maraud the eagles of Mali? 90 plus minutes of breath taking action will define all this and define who meets who at the final, Pride, position, reputation and cash is at stake. Up to that point i don’t want to imagine Zambia or Mali spoiling the party for Ghana or Cote d’Ivorie. Here loosing is not an option, the winner takes it all and you either win or……win.