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Ghana 17:00 Uganda

Ghana profile

The Black Stars out to improve on their third place finish in 2008

Last Updated: 08/01/10 11:06am

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Ghana: Among the favourites

Ghana: Among the favourites

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The Black Stars have come along in leaps and bounds over the last decade and the 2010 African Cup of Nations will provide the perfect chance for head coach Milovan Rajevac to take stock of their progress.

Ghana have won the African showpiece four times and claimed third place in the 2008 competition.

Ghana became the first African team to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa when they defeated Sudan 2-0 in Accra at the start of September 2009.

However, their road to qualification was not as smooth as they would have liked.

In the first phase of qualifying they were expected to ease past Gabon, Libya and Lesotho, but the Black Stars made tough going of the task.

Their progress through to the next round of qualification was only assured due to their superior goal difference after finishing on equal points with Gabon and Libya.

However, while they struggled to make it past the first stage of qualifying, they enjoyed better fortunes in the next phase.

Ghana have am enviable pedigree when it comes to the AFCON, having won the tournament four times and appearing in seven finals to date.

The Black Stars became the first team to win the competition three times, permanently adding the Abdelaziz Abdallah Salem Trophy to their trophy cabinet with a 2-0 victory over Uganda in the final at Accra Sports Stadium, Accra in 1978.

One to watch: Michael Essien

Undoubtedly the star of the Ghanaian team and the key player to their success in Angola is midfielder Michael Essien.

However being your country's one true word class star comes with immense pressure and the Chelsea ace will do well to cope with the incredible expectation placed on his shoulders by the Ghanaian public over the next month.

The 27-year-old is pivotal to the Ghana cause and if Milovan Rajevac's charges are to make an impact in Angola it will hinge largely on the performances of the Blues midfield man.

Coach: Milovan Rajevac

Milovan Rajevac is a Serbian football coach and former player who took over from Frenchman Claude Le Roy in August, 2006.

This is the 55-year-old's first job as a national coach, having previously managed Red Star Belgrade, FK Vojvodina and FK Borac Cacak in Serbia.

In his last job in club football he helped FK Borak gain qualification for the 2008/2009 UEFA Cup, the club's greatest achievement.

As a player, his career spanned over 11 years and he represented FC Borac (twice), Red Star Belgrade, FK Vojvodina and Sloboda Tuzla.

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