- Title: Ghana names provisional squad for Cup of Nations.
- Date: 3rd January 2017
- Summary: ACCRA, GHANA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS BLACK STARS PLAYERS TRAINING
- Embargoed: 18th January 2017 12:22
- Keywords: Ghana Cup of Nations Africa Gabon Squad Players Soccer Football
- Location: ACCRA, GHANA
- City: ACCRA, GHANA
- Country: Ghana
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0045XJ0K0N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Ghana named its provisional squad for the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday (January 2), with expected players like UAE based, Asamoah Gyan and surprise omissions like Jeffrey Schlupp, who was part of Leicester City's shocking Premier League winning team.
The Nations Cup is scheduled to kick off on January 14 in Gabon.
Ghana conceded a painful loss to Ivory Coast in a 2015 AFCON final penalty shoot.
Black Stars coach, Avram Grant said his selection has what it takes to take the title this time.
"This squad is squad for winning games. We have a good squad combination between players with experience, with players without experience, combination between defence to offence, we also have players who can play many positions. We have a good squad. If everybody will be fit, which I am sure they will be fit, we have a good squad to winning games, to winning the games in Africa," he told journalists in Accra.
The team heads for camp in Dubai where they will tighten the list to a final 23 that will go to Gabon.
Grant, dismissing reports that Ghana's Football Association (GFA) was considering sacking him after a string of losses including a 2-0 blow from Egypt in a 2018 World Cup qualifier, said his first priority was to win the Nations Cup.
"My only concern now is to win the African Cup. It is not easy plus we have a very very difficult group stage and we want to do it. I did everything in my power that I will be to help Ghana, I really really like it here, I like the people, I like everything around. I think some target we achieved, some target that I put myself, still didn't achieve, but I am very happy," said the Israeli national.
The GFA denied the reports.
"I can confirm to you that they're bogus sources because they're not legitimate or genuine or any reliable sources that you can count on and if anybody even within the FA told you that it could as well be described as his own opinion. That is not the opinion of the FA," said GFA president, Kwasi Nyantekyi.
Ghana was drawn in a tough group D with Mali, Egypt and Uganda, which will be the Stars first hurdle come 17th.
Uganda surprised fans by holding Ghana, who have been to the last three World Cup finals, to a goalless draw in a qualifier in October.
Analysts say Grant's selection is a good mix of experience and youth with high chances of making it to the final but remained cautious about the team's ability to deliver the title after they have come so close and lost many times.
"The chances are that there is a lot of talk in town about the Black Stars making the final and winning it because since 1982 we've never won it, we went to the final in 1992 we could not win it in 2010 and then in 2015 and we come close too many times people think this is the time the Black Stars need to pick it up, so for the chances of the Black Stars, I strongly feel they make the semi-final but what happens after that will be their own prerogative if they want it more they'll get it and that is what they should go for," said sports journalist, Yaw Ofosu Larbi.
Ghana dropped eight places in FIFA world rankings to position 53 and four places down to nine on the continent after Nigeria, in November 2016.
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