February 9, 2015

Ghana’s Youth and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga says the senior national team, the Black Stars performed beyond expectations in the just-ended AFCON tournament.

He says despite losing in a pulsating penalty shoot-out to the Elephants of Ivory Coast in Sunday’s final, the team out-classed many of their opponents in the tournament and deserve commendation.

Admitting the Elephants were by all standards superior given the caliber of players in that team, Mr Ayariga said the Stars nonetheless “did everything to contain the Ivorians.”

“They had excellent stamina, were physically fit, run throughout the 120 minutes,” before losing 8 – 9 in the penalty shootout.

The Stars, according to Mr. Ayariga, were not tournament favourites but “they did exceptionally well.”

“They have demonstrated once again that with great talent, great determination we can go very far,” he stated.

The Sports Minister also lauded coach of the Black Stars, Avram Grant, for exhibiting sterling qualities as a coach and guiding the team to put up a spirited performance.

“With what he has done in Equatorial Guinea, it is obvious this is a coach that can take us far,” he stressed.

Mr Ayariga said Mr. Grant will be given every support he needs to develop football at all levels in the country.

According to him, discussion are underway to see how the former Chelsea Manager’s vast experience as a great coach can be brought to bear on local football in Ghana.

He repeated the over flagged mantra that football and sports infrastructure generally need urgent improvement.

He will not comment on the budget of the 2015 AFCON campaign, insisting that now was not the time talk about budgets.

The most pressing matter at hand, he stressed, is to leave Equatorial Guinea and the get the Ghanaian contingent and the playing body home safely.

The team hopes to leave for Ghana by midday, he revealed.