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Afcon 2021 qualifiers: Ghana coach Akonnor aiming for victory in South Africa

Ghana coach CK Akonnor reveals their ambition is to play for all three points when they face South Africa in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on March 25.

The Black Stars are set to play as guests of Bafana in a Group C penultimate round match in Johannesburg, three days before wrapping up their campaign with a home clash with Sao Tome and Principe.

The two teams are currently tied on nine points each atop the standings ahead of the showdown. Ghana, though, sit superior due to a better head-to-head record.

“We’ll need to be fully focused for the game in South Africa. We are aiming to clinch it with a win there,” Akonnor told DW.

Akonnor has a lot of worries going into the double-header of games as the regular Black Stars squad, virtually foreign-based, face travel challenges owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

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With travels back to most European countries, including the UK and France, requiring days of quarantine, most clubs are unwilling to release players for the upcoming international fixtures.

Sensing potential danger, Akonnor has summoned 25 Ghana-based players to camp. China-based duo Mubarak Wakaso and Emmanuel Boateng have also been invited as they have already been in Ghana on holiday due to the recess of the Chinese Super League.

“We can’t do without them [foreign-based players] yet, we need their experience in the decisive games,” Akonnor said.

“That [calling up a home-based squad for preliminary camping] was purely a precautionary measure at first.

“I was able to take a hard look at the best guys here from the league here in a two-week training camp. This was also an important thing to do as we look towards the future with a view of bringing younger players into the national team.”

Akonnor was appointed Ghana coach in January last year, with a task to help the Black Stars qualify for the 2022 World Cup and win the 2021 Afcon tournament.

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“Of course, it will be difficult, and we all have to pull together to achieve our lofty goals. But I also like to set the bar high because I want to make a difference in Ghana’s football,” said the coach.

“The pressure here in Ghana as a national coach is enormous. It’s not at all comparable to Europe.

“Here, everyone wants to have a say, to have a say and knows everything better. If you lose once, you’re immediately the fool.”

Ghana are four-time Afcon winners, the last success coming back in 1982.

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