Essien blow for Ghana
Ghana suffered a collossal blow to their hopes of qualifying for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals when their star player, Michael Essien, was ruled out of Tuesday's game against Burkina Faso.
Chelsea's star midfielder misses the final Group B game in Luanda after injuring his right knee in training on Saturday. Randy Abbey, Ghana's team spokesman, told AFP: "Unfortunately we have had the results of the scan back and the coach has confirmed that Michael will definitely miss Tuesday's game."
It was unclear how serious this latest setback was and whether Essien might recover in time to play any further role in Ghana's Cup of Nations campaign should they progress to the last eight. Reports suggest he has torn the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and damage to his meniscus leaving him facing at least one month on the sidelines.
The 27-year-old is walking with the aid of crutches. FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers Ghana are one point behind Burkina Faso and the four-time champions need a win to avoid being eliminated after the first round of the biennial African football showpiece.
With a raft of key players missing the Black Stars fell 3-1 to competition favourites Côte d'Ivoire in their opening game with coach Milovan Rajevac having to field a largely inexperienced side. Ghana kicked off without first-choice players like defenders John Pantsil and John Mensah, midfielders Anthony Annan, Stephen Appiah, Essien, who came on as a substitute, Laryea Kingson, Sulley Muntari and striker Asamoah Gyan.
A fully fit Essien would have given Ghana strength and experience in midfield against a Burkina Faso side that was good enough to hold Côte d'Ivoire to a goalless draw in their opening Group C game. Essien, who arrived in Angola late for the tournament because snow delayed his flight from London, has been struggling to recover from a hamstring injury sustained playing for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League last month.
Ghana striker Matthew Amoah told BBC Sport: "This is a big blow because Michael is so important to our team. We've lost the motor in our midfield, and this is very bad."