Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan admits he has had to “sacrifice” his own goalscoring chances for the good of his team in the opening two matches at the African Nations Cup.
The dangerous Al Ain striker’s goalscoring threat is well known to opposition defences, who attempt to mark him out of the game.
Gyan drew a blank in front of goal as Ghana opened the tournament with a 2-2 draw against DR Congo and then a 1-0 win against Mali, although the former Sunderland frontman had a hand in two of the goals.
The Black Stars lead the way in Group B and can make sure of their place in the quarter-finals with a draw against Niger in Port Elizabeth on Monday, but Gyan insists thoughts of taking centre stage are a long way from his mind.
“I am not thinking about scoring now,” Gyan told ghanafa.org.
“As a leader, I have done a lot for the country and it’s now time for me to sacrifice for the team.
“Any time we are playing, you can see two defenders on me so I have to just sacrifice for the team.”
Ghana are far from assured of their place in the knockout stage, with coach Kwesi Appiah admitting Niger pose their toughest test of the group phase.
“We’ve played two games and for me the next game is the most difficult one,” Appiah said.
“Looking at the Niger team, they are tactically very disciplined and I see it as a game that will be very difficult for us and for that reason we need to prepare very well.”
Despite Appiah’s caution, Niger remain without a win in the finals phase of the African Nations Cup having first qualified for the tournament proper in the 2012 edition.
Three straight defeats a year ago was an ignominious debut, but Niger have looked organised in defence in 2013, losing narrowly to Mali in their opener before a goalless draw with DR Congo.
Niger skipper Moussa Maazou is expecting a tough encounter against one of the tournament favourites.
“It won’t be an easy match for us, but we will try our best,” Maazou said.