Andre Ayew anticipates a tough 2012 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign which Ghana begins this weekend against Swaziland amid the expectation surrounding the national team.
The Black Stars, losing finalist in the last competition in Angola play the Swazi’s on September 5 in the opening Group I game in Lombamba.The group also includes Congo and Sudan.
A group of this nature would suggest an easy campaign on paper owing to Ghana’s strengths which has recently been further enhanced after reaching the finals of the last CAN tournament with a team made up of 13 young debutants following a spate of injuries.
Ghana’s World Cup form, where the Black Stars reached the quarter-finals and were the only side from the continent to have advanced from the group stages means a new era has come.
Amongst the new era of players ensuring that the Ghana flag flies high is Ayew, who has become a mainstay in Milovan Rajevac’s team plans and he admits to feeling the pressure of delivering as he told Fifa.com in an interview.
“Pressure is part of football. It’s always there. I would be lying if I said I don’t feel pressure, but it’s good pressure.
“I’m still young and I want to enjoy my football. I think after the World Cup in South Africa, people expect a lot from us, which is natural after the kind of performance we had,” the Ghana international said.
As the road to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations starts against Swaziland, Ayew says Ghana cannot discount the threat posed by all group members.
“Obviously it’s going to be a tough road to the qualifiers and I’m not just saying that because it’s a usual thing to say. It’s going to be tough because a lot of teams will now be targeting us.
“If you look at some of the teams we have to play, they are not easy opponents even for so-called small countries. In football, anything can happen that is why it’s important for us to step up and work hard. First we have to play Swaziland and we don’t know much about them. They are a closed book to us, but I’m sure they have watched us a lot of times. Then we have countries like Congo, Sudan – not easy opponents, especially away from home.”