Ghana’s black meteors will tonight be hoping to begin their 2019 Africa U23 Cup of Nations campaign with a win against fellow debutants Cameroon this evening. Since the introduction of the U23 AFCON in 2011, to serve as at the continental qualifier for the Olympics, this is the first time Ghana have qualified for the eight-team tournament. Winning this opener is 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.
After unsuccessful attempts, it was Ibrahim Tanko, a former Black Star forward who guided the Meteors to a first-ever qualification. Finishing amongst the top three will end a 15-year wait as far as the Olympic Games is concerned, a feat that would earn the present generation of players a place in Ghana’s football folklore.
Ghana prides itself as the first African country to win football medal at the Olympics – bronze medal at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games – a feat that opened the doors for fellows Nigeria and Cameroon to win gold. 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.