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“We had to show Ghanaians…” – Joseph Paintsil talks Afcon 2021 disaster, World Cup qualification

2022 World Cup hopeful Joseph Paintsil has indicated that the Black Stars were extra spurred on to qualify for the Qatar tournament by their disappointing outing at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) at the start of the year.

Bowing out of the group stage with only one point was Ghana’s poorest performance in the history of the continental showpiece.

“The 2021 Afocn was a tough time [for the Black Stars]. We had a good team but I don’t know what really happened.

“We were all disappointed with what we showed [in Cameroon],” the 24-year-old recounted in a maiden ‘Star Connect’ interview aired on Joy Prime.

An opportunity for redemption availed itself in March when Ghana had to battle for the Qatar World Cup slot in the playoffs with West African rivals Nigeria.

The enormity of the task saw changes made in the Stars’ technical department with Serbian Milovan Rajevac receiving the sack and being replaced by an interim team led by Otto Addo.

2022 WCQ: We believe in our strategies to overcome Nigeria – Otto Addo

“[Facing Nigeria] was a do-or-die game. If we didn’t show anything for Ghanaians at the Afcon, then this is the moment to show them what we were capable of,” the in-form KRC Genk winger said.

He continued: “Doing everything possible every game, especially the home game [in Kumasi] was really important for us. Also, it was really important for them to have a goal or to win. But it’s unfortunate we played 0-0, which was also good for us [going away in the next game].

“It was amazing because when he had the draw and we were going to play Nigeria, even though it was going to be a tough game, mentally the players were ready to sacrifice for the nation. Because it was the same squad from the Afcon, we knew ourselves very well so with Nigeria, through training we were just doing what we were asked to do by the coaches [regarding their weaknesses].

“We needed to come out with glory because of the Afcon performance because Ghanaians like World Cup even more than the Afcon. The World Cup is special when they hear it.”

The Black Stars went ahead to qualify ahead of the Super Eagles courtesy of a 1-1 draw in Abuja after a 0-0 stalemate at the Baba Yara Stadium.

Joseph Paintsil is in Ghana’s pre-list and will be hoping to make the final party that will be competing in Group H with Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay at the Mundial.


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