Ghana united for AFCON despite captaincy debacle – Ofori

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Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori has played down the captaincy controversy that rocked the Black Stars’ camp ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that starts next week.

The West Africans had seen their most capped player and record goal-scorer Asamoah Gyan retire from national team duty last month, in protest of not being named captain by coach Kwasi Appiah.

But after a plea by Ghanaian president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 33-year-old striker reversed his decision and will now line up at the finals under the leadership of Andre and Jordan Ayew. Ofori says the squad are united behind the pair.

The 2019 AFCON finals kick-off next Friday in Egypt with Ghana drawn in Group F, alongside Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau and Benin, who they meet in their first match on June 25.

Ofori is looking forward to the competition, which will be the second of his career having been in the 2017 team that finished fourth in Gabon.

Now two years later and with nearly 20 caps behind his name, the 25-year-old is looking forward to the competition.

Ghana are four-time champions of the top continental prize, but the last time they won it was way back in 1982.

Ofori was not even born that time, although he has watched the Black Stars come quite close to lifting the title during his time growing up.

The west Africans are five-time runners-up, two of those times in the past nine years. Although pressure is high to win AFCON, Ofori says it is part and parcel of professional football, adding that every team going to Egypt will try and win the title.

Ghana are one of the powerhouses of African football and since 1992, they have only failed to qualify for one final – 1992 in Tunisia. Out of the 13 AFCON’s they qualified for, only twice have they missed out on advancing from their group.

They are again favoured to reach the second round in Egypt, where they are the top-ranked side in their group ahead of west African rivals Cameroon.

But Ofori has warned that Benin and Guinea-Bissau cannot be discounted either.

The Team of Choice goalkeeper and the rest of his Ghana team-mates are due to play Bafana Bafana in a friendly match in Dubai on Saturday. – Report by Thahir Asmal