It’s been almost a year since the Black Stars stepped onto the green turf to play a competitive game. Aside from a raft of new appointments at the technical division of the team, we have also made changes to the leadership position in the playing body by appointing Thomas Teye-Partey and Richard Ofori as two deputies to Andre Ayew. With just a few hours to that all-important friendly matches against Mali and later Qatar, we caught up with Captain Andre Ayew to assess the squad, touch on the new players, and analysis of the matches against Mali and Qatar. This is what he told ghanafa.org:
On preparation for the two games
I think everything looks positive so far. The players have shown great spirit and character since we arrived here, the attitude in camp and desire to deliver is very positive and I have no doubt in my mind that we are on course. Training has been great and we are ready for the two games.
On new players and getting the chance to play for Ghana
Being called up to play for the Black Stars, I would say, was part of their dream when they were young. So, I usually say to them, remember when you were young and you were watching the Black Stars play and you were saying if one day, you have the chance to be in the squad what would I do. So, I think this is what its all about. Your happiness, your pride, making your family happy, making the nation happy, so you just have to go on the pitch and do what you have to do. But we know its not easy at all, there is a lot of pressure. Ghanaians demand a lot because football is the sport that we love, so we have to be up to the task and I think that they are ready and would give everything that they have to ensure that we have a good result.
On Thomas Partey and Richard Ofori
I think they are grooming them for the future, I think Thomas (Partey) has been in the team for five years now, since 2015. So, he is gradually getting there, he has proved his worth in the national team and also at club level. I am talking about on the pitch and also outside the pitch, he is becoming more and more matured, becoming somebody that we can rely upon off the pitch also. So, I think that giving him a responsibility like this, is giving him the status to understand that the country and the team count on him a lot, not just now but also for the future. Because he is a very good and talented player who knows how to play the kind of football that Ghana want to play.
Advice to future captain, Partey
I think for him its something good. I have been there before; he has to know that it’s a heavy position. We have good and bad moments. He has to take the knocks when its bad and take the glory when it’s good. But I think he is up to the task and will do well as my deputy.
On winning an AFCON trophy
Our dream, every Ghanaian’s dream, my personal dream is to make sure that the trophy comes home. But we have one year and a half to go, so we are going to take our time. We have to play the qualifications, we have time to groom, it’s a new Black Stars though I don’t really like the name new Black Stars. Black Stars is Black Stars, if you come in and wear the jersey, you have to prove your worth and like I said, there are a lot of players who are there, who are tested and proven players in their League.
On competition for places in the team
For me, I believe that the boys who are here will give their best, the staff and Ghanaians will be able to see them play, see them on the pitch. And everybody has to be ready for the future and everybody is going to fight for a place. Everybody is going to make sure that he is in the squad that will be used for the qualifiers next month and future so we have to be ready for that. I hope that we make it.
On Mali and Qatar
Two tough games. Qatar are the Asian Champions and Mali is a very good team. They have built a squad in the past few years which has become one of the top squads in Africa. We are going to prepare, we are ready for them, like I said, they have a full squad, full house, they are coming with everybody. We can say that we have a lot of new players in the squad. New players that the staff wants to see, so we are going to go to this pitch and give everything that we have and make sure that we give Ghanaians something to smile about. But we are not going to sit here and make predictions. I know that the boys will give everything that they have because these are boys who have come into the team and dream to stay in the Black Stars.