Ghana young guns take Nations Cup by storm

LUANDA - Ghana have put their faith in youth at the African Nations Cup and the talented crop of players from last year's world under-20 championship-winning side have not let the Black Stars down.

Ghana, who will contest Sunday's final against holders Egypt, headed into the biennial tournament without injured defenders John Mensah and John Paintsil, as well as midfielder Stephen Appiah, and lost the experienced Michael Essien after their opening game.

Four players from the under-20 squad started in Thursday's semi-final win over Nigeria and defender Samuel Inkoom particularly impressed.

The centre back saved his team in the 75th minute at Luanda's November 11 stadium when he denied Nigeria Yakubu Ayegbeni who was in a great position to cancel out Asamoah Gyan's first-half goal.

"We knew how to defend on Yakubu. We had decided to catch him offside but he got away (in the 75th)," a confident Inkoom told reporters.

"But I always had an eye on him so I was ready for it."

Just over four months before the World Cup finals start in South Africa, Inkoom and fellow Under-20 winners Opoku Agyemang, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Dede Ayew are establishing themselves in the Black Stars team.

"Yes, I believe that," said Inkoom. "We are united, that is our strength."

Gyan, who has struck the winner in Ghana's last two games, has been impressed by their contribution.

"It's unbelievable," said the Stade Rennes striker. "We are a young team and not many people gave us a chance of making the final."

Defender Anthony Annan added: "It was a very tough game (against Nigeria) but we defended so well. Defence is a key thing. We are very proud. It's been a long time for Ghana and I'm proud of what we are achieving."

Ghana lost the last Nations Cup final they played in 1992 against Ivory Coast and have not lifted the continental trophy since 1982.

Inkoom predicted their title drought was about to end.

"Whoever we play, we will take the trophy home," said Inkoom, who is already setting his sights on the World Cup finals.

"I cannot imagine not going to the World Cup. I will go to the World Cup if I am not injured," he said.