Head coach of the senior national Team B side, Black Galaxies – Daniel Annor Walker, says his eyes are firmly fixed on plucking the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualification ticket for Ghana, for the first time since 2014.
“Qualification to the next CHAN tournament is the ultimate for me, my technical team and the playing body and that is what we are all focused on; nothing more.”
Ghana is chasing a return to the tournament in which they have played second fiddle to the eventual winners twice, DR Congo in 2009 and Libya in 2014, with the latter being the last time Ghana answered the roll call at the championships.
Since then, Ghana have missed out on the last three editions after Cote d’Ivoire crushed the party in 2016. The Stallions of Burkina Faso stopped the Galaxies from the Morocco tournament two years later, before hunting them down from the 2020 Cameroon tournament via a 1-0 aggregate win.
Ghana’s recent history at the CHAN qualifiers have left a bitter taste in the minds and eyes of keen Ghanaian followers of the team and when Coach Annor Walker was appointed to take over the team in August last year, many were a bit skeptical. However, after his 4-0 aggregate win over the Squirrels of Benin in the penultimate qualifiers, there seem to be some hope at the end of the tunnel.
The Galaxies will face the Home Eagles of Nigeria who were given a bye in the last round, in the final phase of qualifiers for the Algeria 2023 tournament.
In a chat with Times Sports yesterday, Coach Walker stated that he was well aware of the task ahead, and was very much up for it.
“We are currently back at training and getting ready for the Nigeria game; a tie that is going to be a game of our lives and my players and the technical team know this.”
“For me, I prepare for every match. The Nigeria game is another game we have to play, and we would be ready for that hurdle. Our eyes are firmly fixed on the qualification ticket until we grab it.”
Coach Walker and his 25-man team returned to camp on Monday at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel to prepare for the Nigeria hurdle which comes off on August 28 in Ghana with the reverse leg on September 3, in Nigeria.
Ahead of that clash, he would have the luxury of testing his side’s battle-readiness against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, Jamaica and World Cup-bound Morocco in a four-nation tournament in Austria – which is put together by the Austria Football Association (AFA).
Dubbed the “Austria Mini Football Tournament,” the competition will kick off from August 20 to 26 at the Ernst Happel Stadium.
Coach Walker described the tournament as one that would be a very good exercise for the team.
“This tournament has come at the right time for the team, as it would help me further prepare my boys for the Nigeria task. I want to thank the Football Association for this opportunity and promise that we would make the most of it.”
The team trained yesterday at the Accra Sports Stadium and would continue today before enplaning for Austria tomorrow.
BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY