Ghana coach Stevanovic voices concern over players' fitness

Karim Farouk, Tuesday 7 Feb 2012

Stevanovic expresses concern over players' physical condition but says 'mental strengths' will decide Wednesday's clash with Zambia in CAN semi-finals

Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic

Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has revealed his concerns about his players’ physical condition but also stressed that personality and mental strengths would be key in Wednesday’s scheduled game against Zambia in the African Cup of Nations semi-finals.

“Our opponents had a day more to rest and we played 120 minutes against Tunisia – these factors count. But the most important thing is the moral and personality factors. We have all that and are ready for the game,” Stevanovic told reporters at a Tuesday press conference.

The Black Stars earned a hard-fought victory over Tunisia, courtesy of a goal by Andre Ayew in extra-time.

“After playing some tough games, the players aren’t at 100 per cent. We have some minor injuries and are trying to recover. Only completely fit players will take part in Wednesday’s game,” Stevanovic added.

Captain John Mensah was forced to withdraw midway through the second half against Tunisia due to an injury, but is expected to be among the starting eleven on Wednesday.

“I had several problems with the backline before the competition because of the injury and suspension of certain players. But now all my players are cleared, and I think I’ll maintain the same composition,” the Serbian tactician explained.

No excuses

Meanwhile, midfielder Sulley Muntari confirmed that the team could not afford to miss this year’s final.

“We have no excuse. Our minds are made up and we’re motivated to win. There’s a bit of pressure when you are always the favourites. Since the 2006 FIFA World Cup, we’ve been playing well and exhibited great talent. People are expecting a lot from us and we [the players] expect to do better as well. We want to win and we’re on the right path,” the 27-year-old added.

Ghana have been the favourites since 2008, but they lost at home to Cameroon in the semi-finals and were denied by reigning champions Egypt in the 2010 final. Now they are hoping their time has come to win a fifth record to end a 30-year drought that has lasted since their 1982 victory against Libya.

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