Pele backs Ghana to equal record

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He said during a visit to Botswana last week that Ghana stands a better chance of equalling the record because as hosts, they are favoured to win next year’s Afcon. Pele said his country has done a lot of ground-work in preparing for the event that starts on January 20.

Since the tournament started in 1957, the once-dreaded Black Stars of Ghana were the runaway leaders until a decline allowed Egypt to close the gap and eventually surge ahead last year.

After victories in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982, Ghana was the only country to lift the Cup four times - double the number of nearest rivals Egypt.

Since then, the Pharaohs of Egypt have added more titles in 1986, 1998 and last year to better the record while the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have equalled the Black Stars four wins. After a first ever qualification for the World Cup in Germany last year coupled with the advantages of hosting the Afcon, Ghana is heavily favoured to win a record equalling fifth title.

They are expected to breeze through Group A where their only worry should be Morocco with some challenge coming from Guinea and lightweights Namibia.

Tanzania’s Taifa Stars are expected to set up a training camp in Brazil as part of preparations for both the 2010 World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifiers.

Head coach Marcio Maximo said that Taifa Stars, who are grouped with the 1990 World Cup quarterfinalists, Cameroon, along with Cape Verde and Mauritius, are expected to camp for three weeks during May.

“I’m expecting to retain two thirds of players who toured Brazil the last time we had set camp for the African Nations Cup qualifiers.”

Maximo said he is expecting to reinforce the present Stars squad with new recruits during the East and Central African Challenge Cup championships kicking off next month.

“The Challenge Cup will be part of the training for players and the Brazilian trip will be concluding my programme for the World Cup qualifiers,” the trainer affirmed.

Stars suffered a humiliating 4-0 whitewash at the hands of Senegal in Dakar soon after touring Brazil in March this year.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles coach Berti Vogts has categorically denied any plans to invite Almeria midfielder Kalu Uche to his Malaga camp ahead of next year's African Nations Cup.

Instead, the coach disclosed that he plans to invite two players each from the Under-17 and the Under-20s to the training camp, but only for the purpose of giving them senior international education.