This Ghana AFCON 2023 preview assesses the Black Stars' chances of going from sleeping giant to continental kings, and who will be key to making that dream a reality.
Despite commanding much respect in their own continent, Ghana find themselves as one of the underdogs for the upcoming tournament, as they sit 61st in the FIFA rankings, making them the 11th-ranked side in the competition.
How did Ghana qualify for for AFCON?
This will be Ghana's 24th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) appearance, with the Black Stars having sealed qualification in the final round of fixtures, after a tense and nervy 2-1 victory against a spirited Central African Republic side.
Having failed to win a single game away from home in the entire qualifying process, the Black Stars were potentially staring down the barrel of elimination at home to the Central African Republic, before two late goals from Mohammed Kudus and Ernest Nuamah saved them from humiliation.
Ghana AFCON 2023 Preview
Who will Ghana play at AFCON 2023?
Ghana have been put into Group B for AFCON 2023 and will come up against Egypt, Cape Verde and Mozambique.
The Pharaohs are certainly the favourites to win this group and one of the most fancied teams to go all the way in the Ivory Coats and win AFCON 2023. The likes of Mohammed Salah and Mahmoud Trezeguet's terrifying defences, it will be hard to stop them, but Ghana will likely be their stiffest opponent.
Cape Verde are one of the sides certainly going under the radar heading into AFCON 2023 with this their fourth appearance at the competition getting through with relative ease. But with just one win in their last five games, they need to ensure their form turns around quickly.
Mozambique will be keen to make up for lost time out in the Ivory Coast, having not participated in an AFCON since 2010, but their nervy qualification to the competition as well as a low FIFA ranking of 114 suggests they will do well to remain competitive.
How far will Ghana go?
Ghana have been far from consistent in recent times and look to be a team building for the future, so this AFCON may well come too soon for Chris Hughton's men. They have managed to lose three of their last four matches, including a World Cup qualifier away to Comoros, which continues their theme of struggling away from home.
A run to the quarter-finals is the very least they should target though.
Ghana Predicted AFCON 2023 XI
There is a lot of debate when it comes to the goalkeeper spot, with Hughton having to pick between Lawrence Ati Zigi and Richard Ofori, but we believe it will be the former who gets the nod. He played in their final AFCON qualifying game and has been in the set-up since 2018 so he could be the safety choice for this huge tournament.
Hughton has often chopped and changed his back four as he goes in search of a water-tight defence that's been hard to come by. Gideon Mensah is likely to get the nod at left-back due to his defensive and offensive capabilities and has started seven of the last nine games for Ghana.
At the heart of defence is far from convincing with a lot of players out of favour with their clubs, but Hughton is likely to opt for Joseph Aidoo and Alexander Djiku who were trusted to start against the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, the #1 left-back is going to be long-time servant and ex-Chelsea man Baba Rahman, who has over 50 caps for his country.
Ghana will be relying a lot on their holding midfielders to help out their shaky defence, so Salis Abdul Samed and the slightly more experienced Owusu Kwabena will be key to any sort of success in the Ivory Coast.
The three in front is where it gets exciting yet tough for Hughton. On the wings, we believe it will be young star Osman Bukari, who is in red-hot form with 11 goal involvements in 17 club games. Likely to be as much ‘mentor' as teammate, veteran Jordan Ayew will bring experience and technical ability to a rather youthful side.
The star for the Black Stars is, of course, West Ham's summer signing Kudus, who is able to play centrally or out wide as he does at the London Stadium. And with nine goals in 26 appearances for his country, he will be key to them progressing far at AFCON 2023.
Inaki Williams has just one goal for Ghana, but will lead the line at AFCON 2023. The Athletic Bilbao striker has six goals in La Liga this term, so carrying that form over to international duty in the Ivory Coast is a challenge he will surely relish.