For a country that was the first to lift the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on four occasions, it can seem a bit baffling that West African powerhouses, the Black Stars of Ghana are yet to win another AFCON title since their last triumph in 1982 – a drought that has lasted 37 years.
Despite the bewildering drought, the Black Stars, one of only three African countries to have made a World Cup quarter-final possesses formidable pedigree on the continent and their lengthy wait for a trophy hasn’t been for a lack of trying.
Their run of six straight semifinals appearances from 2008 to 2013 is an AFCON record and they also hold the record for the most AFCON final appearances with nine (level with Egypt). They made history by becoming the first team to permanently retain the trophy following a third triumph in 1978 and indeed, only Cameroon (5) and Egypt (7) have won the AFCON more times.
All this is, however, scant consolation for a football-mad nation looking to end years of hurt and ridicule especially after suffering final heartbreak to Egypt in 2010 and Ivory Coast in 2015 in their most recent run to the final.
Many Ghanaians hanker after that long-forgotten sensation of triumph and look forward to reacquainting themselves with the trophy at the end of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt and former Black Stars captain and present member of the technical crew, Stephen Appiah believes the time is now ripe to put an end to their drought and says although the trophy has become more difficult to win as teams formerly thought of as minnows have gotten better, the Black Stars’ “yearning for the trophy” means they travel to Egypt with one goal – “to go and win the trophy”.
“Its 38 years now that we are yearning for the trophy but as the years [go by], the game is getting very, very difficult,” the former Juventus midfielder who earned 67 caps and was named in the 2006 AFCON team of the tournament in Egypt told busybuddiesng.com.
“I mean, years back if Nigeria is going to play against Cape Verde, you know for sure that Nigeria is going to win maybe 6-0, 5-0 but today countries like Cape Verde, Benin and the rest they are giving pressure to the big guns.
“So as a Ghanaian, we are going there our goal is to go and win the trophy, but we going to respect every game that comes our way and we are going to take it match after match and we will see what will happens afterwards,” Appiah said.
Ghana have been drawn alongside defending champions Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau in Group F at the tournament which kicks off on 21 June. They kick off their AFCON campaign against Benin on 25 June.