Ghana need to win the CAF Africa Cup of Nations to confirm their status as one of the continent's top sides, Black Stars midfielder Andre Ayew said today.
"At the World Cup, we missed the semi-finals on a penalty. At the last Nations Cup we made it to the final. We've proved that we're a good side, but to be a great side we need a trophy," the Marseille man said on the eve of Wednesday's semi-final with Zambia. "We're programmed to win the Cup. Being in the semi-final is good, but we're not euphoric. The last four isn't enough for us."
"We've carried the tag of favourites for each of our matches here, and it'll be the same against Zambia," he went on. "But if Ghana does what needs to be done there won't be a problem. In this type of game there won't be many chances, perhaps two or three, and we have to know how to go for them when they arise. It will all come down to details."
He described Zambia as a very good side, who can cause trouble for any rival, and who play quick up front. "They've progressed a lot since the last Nations Cup," he added. "It's a team that people under estimate greatly, everyone's talking about Ghana and Ivory Coast, but Zambia and Mali are in the last four because they deserve to be.
"We haven't had as much time to recover [from the quarter-finals] as they have, but mental strength will decide the outcome," he added.
Rest an issue
Black Stars coach Goran Stevanovic also commented on the fact that Zambia, who beat Sudan on Saturday, will be fresher than Ghana, taken to extra time by Tunisia on Sunday. "Our opponents have had an extra day's rest while we had to play for 120 minutes against Tunisia. These are very important factors," he said. "But the most important aspect is mental and character, and I'm certain we'll be ready for tomorrow."
Midfielder Sulley Muntari insisted there could be "no excuse" if Ghana go out. "We're here for something very important. One day [extra rest] or two doesn't make a great deal of difference. We're not thinking about that, we're only concentrating on the game itself."
Stevanovic refused to be drawn on his semi-final starting line-up. After some big games in our group and against Tunisia it's difficult for all the squad to be at 100 percent. There are little injuries, we try to recuperate the players. But those who do end up playing will be the best."
Stevanovic has had to shuffle his defensive pack around since the beginning of the competition, but he reckons he won't have to change the rearguard he started against Tunisia, despite captain John Mensah going off in the 53rd minute.