Captain Asamoah Gyan has no doubt that Ghana’s Black Stars deserved to be African champions at the recently ended African Cup of Nations (AFCON), but he also accepts the fact that the new champions, Cote d’Ivoire, had the luck to win it.
He also believes that the Ivorians needed the trophy to help in their national reconciliation process after going through some turbulent political times in the past few years.
“We deserved this trophy because we did not only give it our all, but on the day, we played better, played our hearts out and dominated the game from start to finish, and were unlucky not to have scored within regulation time. We, no doubt, deserved it, but as often as is the case in football, the Ivoirians won it. Maybe they needed it to bring their country together again after what happened in the country over the past few years.”
“Also, so much was expected of this generation of Ivorian players and perhaps, it was their time to win to take off that pressure, even though we should have won considering that we have been trying our luck for the past 33 years, 10 years more than them.”
The Al Ain striker said the Ivoirians might have drawn on their previous experience to win the title, as on two occasions, they had lost the title in similar circumstances, losing 2-4 to Egypt in 2006 and also 8-7 to Zambia, both on penalties.
“After those experiences, I believe they had the experience to hold on and they had the luck to win, because it is only in football that after having taken a 2-0 lead in penalty kicks, a team can lose. It had to be luck,so in the understanding of the game there could only be three results but in this case, only one side would win. We accept our loss,” Gyan said.
The captain admitted that he had the arduous task of consoling his team both on the pitch and in the dressing room after their disappointing loss to the Ivoirians in the final at the Bata Stadium in Equatorial Guinea, drawing from his own experience to help the players get over the miss.
Gyan was part of the team that missed out at the 2010 final in which they lost 0-1 to Egypt, and last February 8, it was another painful experience as he saw his side give up a 2-0 lead in the penalty shoot-out to lose 8-9, describing it as one of the “most difficult things to accept in the game.”
“Emotions really ran high in the dressing room and that was ok. Accepting this loss and moving on also reflect our mental strength. We can’t stop talking about it, but we have to be strong so it does not affect us in our performance at our various clubs.”
“The tournament is over and we have to go back to our respective clubs, stronger and better, hoping to give our best and avoid any injuries. From a personal experience, it is not going to be easy, but we will have to make it,” the player who has gone through a lot, dealing with his own challenges and disappointments said.
He said the players had not given up and were already looking ahead to the qualifiers for the next AFCON which kicks off in June and were also hoping that when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced the hosts for the 2017 event, Ghana would be named as the hosts.
“We will be ready for the qualifiers when the time comes, but we are all praying that Ghana will win the bid to host the 2017 tournament. It will be such a great moment,” Gyan said.