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Africa U23 Cup of Nations

Ghana coach Tanko talks about Olympic dream after 16-year absence

2:26 PM MYT 22/03/2019
Ghana U23 Black Meteors
The Black Meteors boss sheds light on his aspirations for the team ahead of their U-23 Afcon qualifier against Gabon on Saturday

Ghana U-23 coach Ibrahim Tanko wants to make history by qualifying the west African nation to the Olympic Games for the first time since 2004.

It has been almost two decades of misery for the Black Meteors who have been unsuccessful in securing tickets for the summer gathering since last appearing in Athens, Greece.

With the qualification campaign for the 2020 event slated for Tokyo in Japan in full gear, Tanko reveals his inner motivation.

"I think it [qualification] will mean a lot to me and to the nation as a whole because we all want to see Ghana back in the Olympics," said the coach, who also holds the role of assistant coach with Ghana's senior side.

"It’s been long. Next year’s competition makes it 16 years and we can’t afford to lose out again.

"Else we will have to wait another four years and that won’t be good for us as a footballing nation.

"So for me as a coach, I want to be remembered as leading the country back to football at the World Olympics.

"But like always, there are hurdles to overcome and we are taking one match at a time."

To get to the next Olympics, Ghana must first qualify for the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, which will serve as final qualifiers for the world showpiece.

On Saturday, the Black Meteors, who beat Togo 5-2 on aggregate in their last assignment, will host Gabon in a qualifying second round first leg fixture at the Accra Sports Stadium.

"Fortunately, (on) Saturday they played a friendly match against Togo and my assistant was there to watch them play in the game which ended 2-2," said Tanko.

'So, we have a fair idea of what we are coming up against and that is helping us prepare better.

"In our first match against Togo, we had no idea whatsoever about them and what they can do so we went into the game having no idea.

"But after the first half we had a fair share of their play and what they bring to the table.

"This time we will be more prepared because we know their formation and strategy."

Ghana will face Gabon away in the return leg of Saturday's tie on Tuesday.