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Gyan hails impact of Grant ahead of Uganda challenge

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Asamoah Gyan is playing in his seventh consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. AFP/Khaled Desouki

Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan hailed the impact of head coach Avram Grant on the Ghana players as they underwent their final preparations for Tuesday's opening Group D game against Uganda in Port-Gentil.


The 61-year-old Israeli led Ghana to the final at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations just three months after taking over from James Kwesi Appiah.

Nearly two years on, Gyan, praised Grant’s ability to inspire and motivate the players. “Obviosuly everone knew who Avram Grant was before he came to Ghana,” said Gyan who could collect his 100th cap during the tournament.

“He is a tactician and a coach but I call him a teacher. He motivates his players with different sports. We watch legends in different sports so that we can learn how they got there.

“Any time we are with him, he shows us that you can achieve many things if you work hard.”

Ghana – nicknamed the Black Stars – are attempting to capture their fifth continental crown. Gyan, who plays for Al-Ahli Dubaï, will lead the forward line. André Ayew, who at 27 is playing in his sixth consecutive Cup of Nations since 2008, will be expected to weigh in with goals.

Despite their experience of myriad Cup of Nations tournaments and three World Cups, Gyan said he and Ayew did not lord their status over new call-ups to the senior squad.

“Being older means me and André know ourselves much better and we know hope to cope with the young ones. When you come to the camp, we don’t discriminate. You wouldn’t really know who the captain was. You wouldn’t be able to tell who the senior player was or the new player was. We share everything and we have fun. Even the youngsters have to dance.”

Gyan will be trying to attempt to add to his record 48 goals for his country as the squad strives to hoist Ghana's first trophy since 1982.

Grant says the players are ready for the pressure of another Cup of Nations campaign. “Football without pressure is not good,” he said. “I don’t think you can achieve something without pressure. There is pressure from within our group. They showed they could cope at the last tournament. They lost on penalties. This time again we want to achieve something.”

Uganda will be Ghana’s first obstacle followed by Mali on 21 January and Egypt four days later. “After two years, I know the players better,” Grant added. “I think they can achieve lots of things. It is a good group of people with qualities and passion to serve the country. That’s why I chose them. There are players with quality who do not want to serve the country.

“This is the main thing in the national team. You have the privilege to serve your country and make people happy. I think these players have showed it in the past and they’re willing to show it again.”