Sun 20 Jan '13
| © supersport.com
If Ghana want to win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, they have to start well. That's not pundits talking, it's what the history books say.
Three former Black Stars of years gone by are reminding the current crop, just in case they may have forgotten. On all four occasions the country took the trophy, they did not start slow.
"For me, I just need us to start our first two matches very well," said Yaw Preko, a lightning fast attacker on the wings in his day. A veteran of more than three African Cups, his talented generation - including Abedi Pele and Anthony Yeboah - never managed to win the trophy.
"Once we do that, it will be difficult to catch us, because the boys are hungry. If you look at the [pre-tournament friendly] games against Egypt and Tunisia, they did not struggle too much."
Osei Kofi, one of the most prolific attacking wingers of the 1960s African game, joins the train of thought. "It is not by coincidence that every time we won the title, we started well. These boys need to start well," he told supersport.com.
Joint top scorer in the 1965 edition with three goals, and third highest scorer three years later with four goals, Osei Kofi was integral as Ghana won the trophy in both years for the second and third time respectively.
"When we first won in '63 we drew Tunisia first and beat Ethiopia and beat Sudan. In Tunisia in '65 when we won again, we beat Zaire first and in '68 we started by beating Cote d'Ivoire 4-3. And then later in '82, we started well, too."
Known as "The Wizard Dribbler", he was also given the nickname "One Man Symphony Orchestra" as he could carry the side during his hey-day.
That last trophy thirty-one years ago saw the introduction to the world of a precocious talent, known as Abedi "Pele" Ayew. His sons may have been dropped from the Black Stars squad this time, but for him, it is Ghana first. And he echoes the same message his senior colleague and former teammates are trumpeting.
"It is so, so important that we start well. DRC is a well organized team, and Mali and Niger may be threats. But the thing is, if we are this to be champions, we need a fine start. Everyone says we are slow starters, but I say why can't we start well and end well? It is possible," the former playmaker told supersport.com.
Yaw Preko is sure the Black Stars will do well at the Africa Cup of Nations.
"I believe very much that this year will be Ghana’s year. This is because you can tell from the aura around the camp and the attitude of the players that many of them realise that it’s a now-or-never situation," he said.
"If they don’t win it this time, the next Cup of Nations will be in three years’ time. And in that time, many of the mature players would be out of the team."
Preko, presently the under 20 national team assistant coach believes 2013 is a time for a miracle.
"With the preparation, the technical team and everything, I have the belief that a miracle may happen. Because in 2010 when we were in the final with Egypt, there was a lot of doubt, many didn’t think we would go far. Yet we found ourselves in the final."
"Something good is coming for Ghana. We just have to back them with prayers and I strongly believe that it’ll be a good tournament,” he finished.
The journey begins on Sunday against Claude LeRoy, a man well known, and once adored in Ghana, who he managed to third place in the same competition in 2008.