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Sports News of Saturday, 14 January 2017


How can Ghana qualify from AFCON Group D?

Ghana will be making their seventh consecutive appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations when the tournament kicks off on January 14, but despite the Black Stars' impressive record in recent campaigns, their wait for a first title since 1982 continues.

This year, once again, the West Africans approach the tournament with the ambition of going all the way.

However, before they can dream about lifting the continental crown, they must navigate Group D, arguably one of the trickiest of the competition, where they will be pitted against record champions Egypt, Mali and Uganda.

While Ghana have the pedigree to finish in the top two, the Stars have their own issues which must be resolved before the tournament kicks off.

Heading into their opener, Avram Grant's men have gone five games in all competitions without a win, with only three goals scored. Two of the games that they struggled in were against Uganda and Egypt, which doesn’t bode well ahead of their three-match group campaign.

Following the draw in October, Grant admitted in an interview with Sky Sports that the Black Stars have some 'tough' customers to contend with if they’re to escape from the group

''We played against Uganda and we drew at home, and we’re facing important game in Egypt, who we will meet again at the Afcon,” Grant continued. “There are two more games against them.

''But the Africa Cup of Nations is different and the draw is very difficult,” he added. “Anyway, every group is difficult but this group is very difficult.

He added: ''As you know, African countries are better all the time. I was very surprised by the level of quality of football at the last Afcon, so I think it will be very tight."

At the last Afcon, Grant needed a moment of magic from Asamoah Gyan to sneak past Algeria and reach the last eight, and the former Chelsea boss will need his big names to be on song again if the Stars are to progress.

However, with both Gyan and Andre Ayew struggling with injury, and with Kwadwo Asamoah excusing himself from international duties to continue his return to full fitness, Ghana are looking worryingly short of star power.

With options reduced, Grant must manage his resources well in order to ensure that the Stars have their best XI out on the pitch and therefore are best placed to advance.