Former ghana and Chelsea ace Michael Essien has named the Black Stars among the favourites to win the upcoming africa Cup of nations,and tipped hosts Egypt and nigeria as other serious challengers.
James Kwesi Appiah’s outfit, four-time champions, will be seeking to lift their initial title since 1982 at the June 21 – July19 tournament.
“That [question on the favourites] is a tough one because there are such a large amount of good groups nowadays – it’s very difficult to choose the ultimate winner,” Essien told Goal.
“You cannot rule out the north african groups, particularly the host nation Egypt with Mohamed salah.
“Then ghana and the West Africans like nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon are all strong groups, so the winner might return from there.
“It’s too close to call, so could the best side win.”
The former AC milan and Real madrid midfielder also shared what he feels could finish the Black Stars’ trophy drought.
“We need good hungry players, good management and a small amount of luck to win titles in football and i don’t have any doubt the team are doing everything to win it,” he said.
“It won’t be easy because there are so many strong groups in africa who are looking to win it, so it’s going to be a giant battle.
“I am positive the guys are prepared and that we can find out in due course.”
After a period of poor results, Ghana’s renaissance as a major force was led by a group of players, together with Essien.
Despite qualifying for 2 straight Fifa world cup tournaments (in 2006 and 2010), the Black Stars still fell short of winning the continental diadem.
“It’s tough to explain why [we couldn’t win the Afcon] because we applied the same level of dedication and energy in both the world Cup and the Afcon but football is like that,” Essien explained.
“Sometimes you’ll try everything and still not win.
“But as long as you leave the pitch knowing you have given everything, you can hold your head high.”
Essien, in the twilight of his career, is currently on the books of Azerbaijani outfit Sabail FK.