Gyan admits Ghana 'were lucky' against Botswana

By Farayi MungaziBBC Sport, Franceville
Asamoah Gyan in action against Botswana
Gyan and his teammates struggled to break down a stubborn Botswana side

Asamoah Gyan insists Ghana's mantle as one of the favourites to win the Africa Cup of Nations has not been diminished by a laboured 1-0 win over Botswana.

The Black Stars huffed and puffed against less fancied opponents and were fortunate not to concede an equaliser.

But the striker told BBC Sport that Ghana will improve as the tournament progresses, while acknowledging that luck played its part in the win.

"We were lucky to win but this shows the character of the boys," Gyan said.

"Every first game is always difficult, but what's important is the three points.

"I also said before the tournament started that we should expect a lot of surprises, because anybody can win at any time.

"We will be stronger and sharper for [Ghana's next game against] Mali."

The four-time African champions are seeking to end 30 years of misery in a competition they last won in 1982, but lacked creativity and the ability to break down a stubborn Zebras defence on Tuesday.

"It's always very difficult to play against opponents who have 11 men behind the ball, which is what Botswana did, but I'm sure that Mali will play differently," said the striker, who plays for Al Ain in Abu Dhabi.

"We have a lot experience in this squad and we know what's required of us, and we're determined to make our fans happy."

The former BBC African Footballer of the Year said the squad will cope with the absence of John Mensah, who is set to miss the remaining group games after being red-carded against Botswana.

"John is a big player for us, and he's our captain," Gyan said. "But we have very good players in our squad who will come in and do the job."

Ghana team doctor Percy Annan later disclosed that Mensah may have missed the next two games through injury anyway.

Annan says Mensah has pains in his lower left thigh and that tests will reveal the extent of a potential hamstring injury.

"We will do a scan at the hospital to know how serious this injury is," said Annan.

Ghana face Mali on Saturday, before another potentially difficult Group D assignment against Guinea next Wednesday.