|Ghana’s talisman Michael Essien will captain the squad in place of Appiah [GALLO/GETTY]|
Ghana’s ambitious manager Milovan Rajevac knows his injury-hit squad makes Ghana a liability with just seven days left before the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Rajevac will be without experienced players including captain Stephen Appiah of Italian side Bologna, John Mensah of English Premier League side Sunderland, Fulham’s John Paintsil and Laryea Kingston of Scotland’s Hearts.
Also on the injury list but expected to recover is Chelsea’s midfield kingpin Michael Essien who injured his hamstring in a Champions League clash against APOEL Nicosia.
Added to this, Rajevac has axed Inter Milan’s midfielder Sulley Muntari, a regular player in the team, on the grounds of indiscipline.
“We have twenty three players that we believe in so we will try to prepare them for the competition.
“The problem of injuries is behind us. We want to concentrate on players we have here and prepare them as good as it is possible,” Rajevac said.
“We strongly believe in the quality of these players so we will go there hoping to have the best results.”
The Serbian must vary his game plan and tactics but still remains optimistic that the Black Stars could pick up a fifth title at the end of the three-week competition to make him the first foreign coach to achieve the feat with the team.
“I know that a foreigner is yet to win the competition and I want to become that first coach to deliver the title and it is possible,” Rajevac said.
German coach Otto Pfister came close to winning the trophy with the Black Stars in 1992 but lost out on penalties to Ivory Coast in Senegal.
Last year Frenchman Claude LeRoy finished third when Ghana hosted the last edition of the tournament.
Rajevac has boosted his squad with eight members of the Fifa Under-20 World Cup winning team in Egypt last year.
“You can see the coach has brought in talented youngsters who have shown great quality already.
“So while it’s unfortunate that injuries have come, we have to concentrate on what we have,” said Eric Addo, a Ghana defender who plays for Dutch club Roda JC.
The injuries will deny Ghana of some badly needed experience at the tournament but the Ghana Football Association vice president Fred Pappoe says there is no point brooding over the losses.
“I am a perennial optimist. I don’t pay attention to the dark side of life. Injuries have come; injuries will come so we can’t brood about it. I am not looking at the players injured I am looking at those here,” he said.
The Black Stars have been drawn in Group B alongside Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo in an all-West African battle.