Ghana sweat on Kingson

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LUANDA, January 30- Africa Cup of Nations finalists Ghana, beset by a bagful of injuries to star players, suffered a fresh setback on Friday involving inspirational captain Richard Kingson.The Ghana and Wigan goalkeeper is one of only a handful of experienced players available to the Black Stars, who face champions Egypt in Sunday’s final.

But Kingson, who pulled off a series of match-winning saves in the 1-0 semi-final win over Nigeria, had to be taken to hospital in Luanda on Friday to undergo tests on a groin problem.

He picked up the injury in last Sunday’s 1-0 quarter-final win over hosts Angola, and was clearly not 100 percent against Nigeria, restricting his kicking to his left foot.

"I wasn’t entirely fit but I promised the boys I would do anything for them, I sacrificed myself for the guys to help them reach the final," he said after Thursday’s historic win in the west African derby, which has put Ghana into its first Africa Cup of Nations final for 18 years.

Coach Milovan Rajevic, already missing most of his regular first XI, told AFP at the team’s hotel in downtown Luanda: "Richard has had to skip a couple of training sessions because of the injury. And as you saw he was feeling it yesterday, using only his left foot.

"He is in hospital today to have tests and treatment, but I’m hopeful he will be able to play on Sunday.

"He really wanted to play against Nigeria, he wanted to help them with his experience."

Despite his fine performance in the quarter-finals there was a sting in the tail for the Ghana captain, who was booked in injury time.

Another yellow card in the final will see him miss Ghana’s World Cup first round opening game against Serbia in Pretoria, South Africa on June 13.

He is one of a rare breed of experienced players left in the squad following the defection due to injury of regular captain Stephen Appiah, Chelsea star Michael Essien, John Pantsil and John Mensah.

That has left the door open to Ghana’s youngsters, who have grabbed the chance to shine and state their case to be included in Rajevic’s World Cup squad.

As well as Rajevic’s home country, Ghana are drawn against Germany and Australia in Group D in South Africa.

One piece of good news for the underdogs in Sunday’s final is the return to fitness of Anthony Annan.

The midfielder, who plays his club football in Norway with Rosenborg, had to sit out Ghana’s first three games but started against Nigeria and will be even sharper for Egypt.

The champions, seeking their third straight title and seventh in total, arrive in Luanda later on Friday to prepare for what they hope will be yet another continental crown.

Victory will see coach Hassan Shehata become the first manager to win three consecutive championships.

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