Andre Ayew is using the agony of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations to build up and win next year’s finals in South Africa.
Ghana’s fourth-place finish at the just ended finals in Gabon-Equatorial Guinea means the end of the long trophy drought has been prolonged once again as Ayew’s hopes of going one step better than previous competitions could not materialize.
From a squad player in the 2008 bronze winning team to an influential member in the team that finished runners up in Angola 2010, the weight of expectation and responsibility had been building up greatly on the Black Stars and the Olympique Marseille attacking midfielder.
His relentless power and energy has been one of Ghana’s strengths but when referee Benouza Mohamed blew the whistle to end the semi-final clash against tournament’s eventual winners, Zambia, Ayew, who had been replaced during the 1-0 defeat a week today knew the dream had come crushing.
"I was hurt just like everyone else in the team and our supporters were,” the 22 year-old Ayew exclusively told www.ghanafa.org.
“That result [1-0 defeat to Zambia] meant that we missed the final and the chance to win the title," he said. "Maybe we deserved more from that game than we got but that’s football. The game sometimes produces results which do not reflect the trend of the game."
Certainly setbacks are a part of the game but hardly do supporters embrace it like the key actors do. Maybe their experiences in the game have prepared them for such happenings.
“We were very hurt. We were carrying the hopes of an entire nation and accepted the challenge to deliver. Ofcourse, we trusted ourselves that we had the qualities to do the job and indeed, we have a great team but it just didn't happen.
“I understand the feelings of the many fans who back the team in various ways. We feel for them and also feel the pain too. We wanted to win it badly.
“Every player on the team put in an effort to win the fifth Nations Cup. For a player, being decorated and bringing honour to your country is priceless and we know what we have missed.” Andre said in a low voice.
Long wait has to end
After years of misses and disappointments, Andre, also called ‘Dede’ now has his eyes on the prize and he wants to play a key role in ending the long-wait by winning it next year in South Africa.
The build up to next year’s finals in South Africa will see the Black Stars enter the qualifying stage in the final round in September and October 2012. And Andre wants to see the Black Stars correct their mistakes, start on a clean slate and mount another challenge.
At just 22, he has being at three consecutive Nations Cup finals and is hoping to make it a fourth but with one sole objective, winning the title.
“Yes, we have to start all over again and make sure that we qualify for the next Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. We don’t have too much time. It’s going to be a busy year and we have to focus on our targets,” Andre said.
“We have some ten months to ensure we qualify and we have to put in the hardwork to achieve that.”
“Once you wear the Black Stars jersey, there’s always a responsibility on you to win every match. It is nothing new to me. In 2008, I had a difficult time but gradually I am maturing and improving.
“Over the last two years, I have endured difficult times as I like taking on the challenge and I want to continue to improve. I am only 22 now but trying to put in my best for country and I accept the responsibility of playing a key role. It only reminds me to work hard and improve.”
Andre Ayew accepts the responsibility of being a key figure just like he did when he led the U-20 team, the Black Satellites to win the U-20 World Cup in 2009.
Such wonderful memories is spurring him on to achieve success with the Black Stars and in South Africa, Andre Ayew might just realize his dream.
“I hope we lift it and that would be wonderful for us the players and the entire country,” he said.