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Sports News of Saturday, 4 February 2017


Grant attributes AFCON 2017 failure to injuries to key players

Ghana coach Avram Grant conceded that the injuries to skipper Asamoah Gyan and defender Baba Rahman during the group stages on the much-criticised pitch at Port-Gentil affected Ghana's bid to end a 35-year trophy drought at AFCON 2017.

Ghana lost 2-0 to Cameroon on Thursday night in Franceville, which meant they failed to advance to Sunday’s final.

Rahman hurt his knee injury during the opening match against Uganda in Port-Gentil on 17 January. He left the tournament and returned to Germany to his club Schalke who have ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Gyan, who has scored 49 goals for Ghana, hurt his adductors during the third Group D match against Egypt. But he remained in Gabon.

The 31-year-old missed the quarter-final victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo and was named as a substitute for the semi-final against Cameroon.

“Both injuries were due to the pitch at Port-Gentil,” Grant said. “It was difficult to overcome the loss of Rahman and Gyan. The team lost after a very good tournament.”

“It’s disappointing,” said Grant. “We wanted so much to be in the final. We dominated the second half and we were the better side but we lost. This is football. I congratulate Cameroon and wish them luck for the final.”

In a macabre twist of fate, Ghana travel on Friday to Port-Gentil – the source of so much of their anguish – to play for third place on Saturday against Burkina Faso. “It’s not exactly the dream of our lives to play this game,” said Grant. “But we will do everything to win it.”