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Sports News of Thursday, 17 January 2002

Source: Reuters

Kuffour hoping for African cup success after Bayern glory

Samuel Osei Kuffour carries the hopes and ambitions of Ghana into this month's African Nations Cup where supporters will be hoping he can turn his success at club level into glory for his home country.

The Bayern Munich defender was a Champions League winner last May and scored the goal that settled November's World Club Championship match 1-0 in favour of the German side against Boca Juniors of Argentina in Tokyo.

His performances last year, which also included a pivotal role in Bayern's stunning Bundesliga title triumph on the last day of the season, make him the favourite to win the African Footballer of the Year award for 2001, which is to be announced in April.

Kuffour made headlines in May 1999 when he was inconsolable after Bayern lost 2-1 to Manchester United in the European Cup final when they were only minutes away from winning the trophy.

United scored twice in injury time to steal the cup from Bayern's grasp and he was devastated at the end, beating the pitch with his fists before a helping hand from the referee, his team mates and even one or two United opponents enabled him to get back on his feet and find relative sanctuary in the dressing room.

Two years later it was a different story and he was all smiles as he helped Bayern win the trophy for the first time in 25 years with a penalty shoot-out victory over Valencia.

The 25-year-old has been at Bayern for the last seven years, having first been signed by Torino in Italy after helping Ghana's under-17 team win the world championship in 1991.

The Nations Cup finals will be Kuffour's fourth successive appearance in the tournament, although he has yet to help Ghana reach the dominant heights they once enjoyed in the event.

His appearance in Mali comes under a cloud of controversy after criticising coach Fred Osam Duodu for leaving out his friend and fellow German-based professional, Charles Akunnor, who was the captain of the team.