The national U-23 football team, Black Meteors, hope to begin their continental campaign on a bright note when they face Cameroun in their opening Group A Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) fixture tomorrow at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt.
The Black Meteors are looking forward to a convincing win in their opener as a way of standing a chance to qualify for the semi-final stage of the U-23 AFCON competition which serves as the continental qualifier for the Olympic Games next year in Japan.
Olympics ticket at stake
Three slots -- reserved for teams who finish in the top three of the competition, will represent Africa at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and Coach Ibrahim Tanko’s side stand a chance of participating in next year’s global showpiece if they can finish as one of the third best teams at the upcoming U-23 AFCON competition in Egypt.
Having failed to compete at the competition in the two previous editions of the U-23 AFCON, the Meteors believe their maiden campaign will be not only be good, but successful enough to secure them qualification into next year’s Olympics by finishing the tournament with a medal.
Confident of the team that earned the qualification, Coach Tanko has kept faith with about half of that squad as he named the final team for the tournament.
The list of the final 21 is made up of 12 foreign-based and nine local players for the competition which runs from November 8-22.
The likes of skipper Yaw Yeboah, Kwabena Owusu, Netherlands-born Robin Polley of ADO Den Haag, Hearts of Oak’s William Dankyi, Simon Zibo, Emmanuel Lomotey and Mohammed Habib of Kotoko, among others, are all expected to help in Ghana’s quest to win the competition for the first time.
Visit from Ambassador
In a meeting with Ghana’s Ambassador to Egypt in Cairo, Yeboah said “We seeing you here is a motivation to us. We are also going to assure you that we will work hard in achieving our target. We like the confidence you have shown in us and we assure you that we will do our best to qualify”.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s opponent, Cameroun, wrapped up their preparations for the competition with a barren draw with defending champions, Nigeria, in Ismailia last Tuesday before departing to Cairo ahead of their opening encounter with the Black Meteors.
Coach Rigobert Song’s charges will be up to win their game with Ghana following a week of camping in Ismailia during which they finalised their preparation for the tournament.
Host nation, Egypt, are expected to open the third edition of the U-23 AFCON tournament on Friday against Mali on Friday before the Cameroun - Ghana game continues.
Defending champions, Nigeria, will lock horns with Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday, with the quest to avoid an early exit from the tournament on their minds while South Africa slug it out with Zambia.