The former Fulham right-back assesses his nation’s chances at the upcoming continental championship
Former Ghana international John Paintsil is upbeat about the Black Stars’ chances of making it out of the group stage of the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament but warns against complacency.
The four-time African champions have been pitted against Morocco, Gabon and Comoros in Group C in a draw conducted on Tuesday.
Only the top two teams at the end of the group stage secure automatic qualification for the knockout stage.
“It’s a tricky group. Currently, every country has improved because the game is dynamic and you cannot idle around. I see it as a difficult group,” Pantsil, who featured at multiple Afcon tournaments for Ghana, told Asempa FM.
“Ghana will qualify at all cost, but we need to approach everything about it seriously. During our time we were always serious about qualifying, so I pray they maintain that discipline. It’s a very tricky group but Ghana will qualify.
“We will have problems if we don’t get ready. Our readiness is what will take us to the next stage. The group we find ourselves in is not something to relax over.
“We cannot underestimate Gabon and Morocco, they always prove stubborn in tournaments they feature in. So we must be serious and be well prepared.”
A team who finishes third in their group could still progress to the next round of the competition provided they finish among the four best third-placed sides.
Ghana’s last failure to go past the group stage of the Afcon tournament came at Egypt 2006.
In Cameroon next year, the Black Stars will hope to continue what has been a good qualification run in recent times.
“We came here with a lot of expectations, and it is a good group for us but we are not underrating any team or country,” Ghana head coach CK Akonnor said, as reported by Footballghana.
“Cameroon is like a home to because I have played here before but we will have to prepare well and come into the tournament stronger but as I said, we are not underrating any team.
“We topped our qualifying group but we must prepare well for this tournament.”
The continental gathering is set to run between January 9 and February 6 next year.