Ghana’s Andre Ayew has told GOAL how he battled through the pain barrier to take to the field in the Black Stars’ Africa Cup of Nations opener against Morocco on Monday despite being less than 100 percent.
Dede was ineffectual in the No. 10 role as Ghana got their campaign off to a losing start, as they were defeated by a late goal from Sofiane Boufal.
Speaking after the match, the veteran forward has revealed that he had to overcome illness to feature in the fixture.
“I’ve been sick for a few days, but I thank God that I managed to be on the pitch with the boys,” Ayew told GOAL. “I wanted to be on the field even though I was not fully ready, but I’m feeling better now.
“I’ve not been feeling good for two or three days,” he revealed, “but I wanted to be on the pitch, even though I knew I wasn’t 100 percent.
“You need to give everything,” he continued, “this Afcon has been anticipated for three years and I’ve been waiting since.”
Dede’s lack of match sharpness was evident during a frustrated showing in which he picked up a booking as Ghana struggled to take control of the contest.
While he was effective in the air, winning four aerial battles, he created just one goalscoring opportunity, and was guilty of losing possession on several occasions due to a heavy touch.
The 32-year-old is fast running out of opportunities to emulate his icon father Abedi Pele and win the continent’s grandest prize.
The 2021 Nations Cup is Ayew’s seventh tournament, with Dede a key man in the Black Stars generation that has mounted a title challenge on several occasions only to fall away late on.
They’ve been defeated semi-finalists on three occasions—in 2008, 2012 and 2017—while the ex-West Ham United man has been on the losing end in the final twice.
In 2010, the Black Stars—only months before going on to reach the World Cup quarter-final—were beaten by Egypt, before, in 2015, they endured penalty shootout heartache against the Ivory Coast.
Ghana continue their Nations Cup campaign against Gabon on Friday, before meeting Comoros on Tuesday.