NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – Despite Saturday’s 1-0 loss at the hands of Kenya’s Harambee Stars, Ghana head coach Kwesi Appiah remains confident that his charges will qualify for the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Ghana remain top of Group F despite the result, though the group is massively open after Ethiopia beat Sierra Leone 1-0 on Sunday, meaning all teams in the group are on three points.
“I still believe that we can qualify. Personally, I know that we will be there next year. It is an unfortunate loss, but you learn from defeat and make sure you don’t do the same mistakes next time,” the tactician who was just appointed this year said.
Ghana reached the semi-finals of last year’s showpiece, losing 2-0 to eventual champions Cameroon, before also losing the play off to Burkina Faso by a solitary goal.
Appiah was left ruing missed chances as his side was blanked out by Kenya’s resolute defending, but says on a different day, probably the results would have been different.
“In the second half we were pressing a lot to equalize. We had lots of chances, but it’s unfortunate we could not utilize them. I believe Kenya did well but we could have done better with the chances we created,” the tactician noted.
He added; “I never underrated Kenya. They did well and defended deep to protect what they have. In football chances come and if it’s not your day, you will not convert them. On my part though, I have learnt a lot about the players. It was important to know what they can do especially the new ones and this game has shown me a lot.”
The tactician was also short of admitting that the performance of his players disappointed him, saying some did not play at the level he was expecting them to.
“Personally, the level I was expecting from some of them was not what they showed on the pitch,” the coach further noted.
Meanwhile, the tactician refused to blame the absence of three key players, the Ayew brothers and skipper Asamoah Gyan for the loss. Appiah also defended himself for starting star midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah and wingback Harrison Afful from the bench.
“I don’t play with names; I play with players who will be fit at a particular time. Kwadwo being on bench does not mean he’s not a good player but under circumstances we had to make some players start,”
“When you are building a team, if you don’t give others chance to play, how do you assess them? We shouldn’t look at who can play today only, but also those who can play in 10 years,” the tactician stated.
Ghana return to the drawing board and Appiah is under pressure as he prepares for the back to back home and away ties against Sierra Leone next month, matches he has to win to ensure the hopes of qualification remain afloat.
The tactician also notes that his biggest ambition is to see the Black Stars qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar after missing out on the Russia showpiece this year.