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AFCON 2023: Black Stars eye winning start against Cape Verde

By Vincent Ashitey
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Black Stars begin their quest for their fifth AFCON title when they play Cape Verde in their Group B opener later tonight at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.

The Black Stars suffered a disastrous group stages exit when they last showed up in Cote d'Ivoire during the 1984 AFCON tournament and would not like to revisit the bad memories.

The recent group stages exit by Ghana at AFCON 2021, even makes the situation more dire for the Black Stars players who would have to put more work to prevent another group stage disaster.

The four-time champions are chasing their first AFCON trophy in 41 years, and the task is certainly stern, with the odds not in favour of the Black Stars winning the trophy.

Speaking ahead of today's game, Captain Andre Ayew, 34, who is making his 8th AFCON tournament after featuring in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021 promised the Black Stars will give everything to make Ghanaians proud.

It’s a huge tournament for us. As a team the last tournament was very difficult but being in a lot of tournaments, I think there were a lot of things that happened for it to go that way. But we need to learn from it and make sure that it doesn’t happen again, whether it is on the pitch or off the pitch.

Yes it’s true that this is my eighth AFCON. I have been sitting here a few times for a few years now. The ambition hasn’t changed. Since I started from day one in 2008, I have always had the ambition to make sure that we are able to bring the trophy home one day. We always come with that ambition but we can’t promise it. What we can do is to make sure we give everything that we can day by day, game by game, take our time.

We have seen a lot of teams win this tournament without any dogs’ chance and we have seen teams who were expected to win and indeed they won. But one thing I know is that in this tournament you can’t predict anything and if you can’t predict anything then the doors are open for everyone and when the doors are open, we need to slide in. We don’t have to give no chances, and I believe that the squad is determined and our vision is to win the next game and from then we will see how to take it to the next one.


Facts and Figures

  • Ghana and Cape Verde are facing each other for the second time at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Their only previous meeting saw Ghana win 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the 2013 edition.
  • This is Ghana’s 24th appearance in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, the most after Egypt (26) and Côte d’Ivoire (25). The Black Stars won the Africa Cup of Nations in four of their first seven appearances (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982) but have won none of their subsequent 16. 
  • Ghana have won only one of their last nine matches at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (D4 L4), a 2-0 group stage victory against Guinea-Bissau in 2019. They were knocked out in the group stages of the last AFCON.
  • This is Cape Verde’s fourth appearance at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, with all four taking place since 2013. Six of their 11 matches at the tournament so far have ended in a draw, with their two wins taking place against Angola in 2013 (2-1) and Ethiopia in 2022 (1-0), both in the group stages.
  • Cape Verde have qualified from the AFCON group stages on two previous occasions (2013, 2021) but have never won a game in the knockout phase of the competition. In fact, they have lost only one of their nine group matches (W2 D6), it was against Burkina Faso in January 2022 (0-1).
  • Cape Verde have never lost their opening match at a CAF Africa Cup of Nations (W1 D2).
  • Only one of Cape Verde’s 11 previous games at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations has produced more than two goals.
  • Cape Verde’s eight goals in the qualifiers for this year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations were all scored by eight different players.
  • Mohammed Kudus was directly involved in 50% of Ghana’s goals in the qualifiers for this year’s tournament, scoring three times and assisting one (4/8).
  • If he plays, this will be André Ayew’s eighth CAF Africa Cup of Nations, which will equal the record held by Cameroon’s Rigobert Song and Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan. Meanwhile, if he scores for Ghana, he will set a new record of having found the net in seven different AFCON tournaments.