Africa Cup 2023: Ghana’s four decades wait or Egypt’s elusive eight?

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In the 66-year existence of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), two of the nations that have enjoyed the most glory in the competition have been Ghana and Egypt.

The two nations have exerted their dominance in the continent’s most coveted football competition, winning a combined 11 trophies.

The Egyptians’ seven-times triumph is the most in the history of the AFCON while Ghana’s four wins come third, only one win away from equalling Cameroon after the Central African nation defeated the Egyptians to win their fifth title in 2017.

The Black Stars of Ghana have become a sleeping giant in the competition having won their last trophy more than four decades ago in 1982.

The Ghanaians were tied with the Egyptians as the most successful nations in the competition until the North African nation won a three-peat in 2006, 2008 and 2010, leaving Ghana behind to go down as the most successful country.

Since that last win in Angola 14 years ago where the Egyptians defeated the Black Stars in an intense game by just a single goal, the Pharaohs have suffered several heartbreaks in the competition.

After missing qualification for three successive AFCON tournaments in 2012, 2013 and 2015, the Pharaohs managed to get to the finals in two out of the last three tournaments with the last being in 2021.

Both teams could not manage a win in their opening matches as Egypt managed to scrape a point to avoid an upset in the dying moments of their game against underdogs Mozambique courtesy of a Mohamed Salah penalty. However, the Black Stars were stunned by Cape Verde and now sit bottom of the group.

Many believe that this year’s competition represents the last chance for Egyptian captain Mohamed Salah to win the elusive eighth AFCON for the Pharaohs as he enters the twilight years of his very impressive career.

Others also believe that the Ghanaians, who in the past would have been considered heavy favourites to win the competition alongside the Egyptians will continue their four decades of wait for an AFCON title because of their poor performances in recent years, most notably their failure to make it out of the group stage in the last edition of the AFCON in 2021.

Ghanaian sports journalist Joseph Nii Adamafio who is in Ivory Coast to cover the journey of the Black Stars at the AFCON 2023 told GSW that after the opening match defeat to Cape Verde, the atmosphere in the Black Stars dressing room was “tensed” and that the players have been disappointed with the recent performances.

“The mood in the dressing room is very heavy. Everyone is upset with the results because they want to start on a good note. Already there are rumours that Chris Hughton (Black Stars Head Coach) has lost control of the locker room,” Adamafio told GSW.

“It looks like the Black Stars will repeat what happened in Cameroon where we got knocked out at the group stages,” he added.

On January 18, the Black Stars will go toe-to-toe with the Pharaohs once more in a group game that would ultimately ensure qualification to the knockout stages of the competition for both teams.

Will the four decades of wait go on for the Black Stars of Ghana or will the Pharaohs of Egypt move a step closer to achieving their eighth title?

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