Ghana will be keen to start the tournament on a high as they chase their first trophy since 1982, with Uganda back after a lengthy absence.
Asamoah Gyan is optimistic about Ghana’s chances of lifting the Africa Cup of Nations trophy for the first time since 1982 and is drawing inspiration from title-holders Ivory Coast.
Ghana are one of the tournament’s most decorated nations, with only Egypt having bettered their tally of four AFCON triumphs.
But the last of those came 35 years ago, since when they have lost in three finals, most recently last time out when The Elephants prevailed on penalties in 2015.
However, Gyan believes they have what it takes to go all the way this time around and is brimming with confidence ahead of his side’s Group D opener against Uganda on Tuesday.
“I always use Ivory Coast as an example,” Gyan told TV3.
“They lost two finals and then won the third one against Ghana on penalties. We can do that too.
“We have quality players and our attitude is what will be decisive. It is very easy to say you can win the trophy, but you must show it on the pitch.
“To win a trophy everyone must get involved. We need to be strong, have depth and hope that we stay injury-free.”
Uganda last qualified for the AFCON in 1978, when they were beaten 2-0 in the final by Ghana.
They had to settle for second spot in their qualification section behind Burkina Faso, but pipped Botswana and Comoros to second place and booked their ticket for the finals in Gabon as one of the two best runners-up.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ghana – Asamoah Gyan
The 31-year-old is not only his country’s most-capped player, but also leads the Black Stars’ all-time goalscoring charts.
Gyan is still missing a major trophy to cap his international career, however, and this year’s AFCON may be one of his last as he approaches the end of his career.
The experienced striker missed the majority of the qualification campaign, but remains Ghana’s main man in attack as captain.
Uganda – Faruku Miya
Experienced attacker Geofrey Massa might remain Uganda’s biggest name in attack, but there is no denying Miya is the man to watch for the future.
The Standard Liege youngster players a key role in his country’s successful qualification campaign, netting the winner in the crucial victory over Comoros that saw them seal their ticket for Gabon.
This AFCON could be the moment Miya really breaks through and catches the eye of the footballing world.
KEY OPTA STATS
– This is Ghana’s 21st AFCON participation, a tally only bettered by Egypt (23) and Ivory Coast (22).
– Ghana are the only team to have reached the semi-finals in each of the last five AFCON tournaments.
– Uganda have lost 12 of their 16 AFCON games (winning three, drawing one), although three of those wins have come in their last five games.
– Andre Ayew scored three goals and delivered two assists in six games at the 2015 AFCON, the joint-highest goal involvement alongside Wilfried Bony.
– This is the first AFCON for Uganda manager Milutin Sredojevic.