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Lessons as Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan rises to the occasion at the Africa Cup of Nations

Africa Cup of Africa 2013: What lessons did we learn as Asamoah Gyan rises to the occasion and importance of winning?

Asamoah Gyan has scored once and set up four goals for the Black Stars at the 2013 AFCON

Africa Cup of Africa 2013: What lessons did we learn as Asamoah Gyan rises to the occasion and importance of winning?

Don’t pick your big names if they’re not ready

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Momo Sissoko is arguably a class above the majority of the players on show in the tournament, but he didn’t look it ON Monday. The former Liverpool man has struggled with injuries in the last couple of years. He has only featured three times in Ligue 1 this season and there were doubts about his participation in this tournament. After a substitute appearance in the opener and 68 minutes in the defeat by Ghana, Sissoko may have appeared ready for a full 90. However, a clumsy foul to concede the penalty after just 30 seconds suggested otherwise. Sissoko looked out of sorts from that moment on and was forced off on a stretcher after 70 minutes. Mali will likely have to face the knock-out stages without him, leaving talisman Seydou Keita with an awful lot to do.

You have to win games to go through

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Afcon 2013 campaign is over, but they didn’t actually lose a single match in the competition. Like New Zealand in the 2010 World Cup, they may well become a pub quiz answer in years to come, but that will be of no consolation to coach Claude LeRoy and the squad. Congo will look to that disappointing 0-0 draw with Niger on Thursday, when they did not do enough to take an important three points. In major competitions such as this, the margins are fine and there is not a lot of time to make an impact. Early hesitancy has left Congo scrambling for points and it has been a case of too little, too late for the Leopards.

Captain Asamoah Gyan can lead Black Stars to victory

Despite a slow start to the tournament, the former Sunderland forward has never been short on confidence, as his domestic record this season shows with 21 goals in 13 games for UAE club side Al Ain. If the Black Stars captain – complete with eccentric hair-do – can replicate that form in the knock-out stages, it will make his side a formidable force. Ghana possess a young side full of potential and with Gyan leading the line they could well prove too strong for minnows Cape Verde in the quarter-finals. The Black Stars have been tipped by many as Africa Cup of Nations favourites and on Monday’s performance alone, Gyan must also be a favourite for the golden boot.

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