Asamoah Gyan

Dancing Sunderland, Al Ain and Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan speaks to FourFourTwo about the Africa Cup of Nations in the February 2012 issue, featuring a 23-page special on the tournament, out now.

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What are you most looking forward to about this year's ACoN?
I'm really looking forward to continuing on the positive journey we have been on. We are well prepared and work well together, as we showed in the 2010 World Cup, and we have high expectations after being so close to victory in the last two Africa Cups of Nations.

What does the Africa Cup of Nations mean to you?
The Africa Cup of Nations is very close to my heart, as a Ghanaian and as a footballer. We haven't won the tournament since 1982, but we've been so close to winning the title in the last two tournaments.

This year will be the 18th Africa Cup of Nations Ghana has qualified for, and personally, I really want to do my best and finally bring the trophy home to make everyone from my country proud. This year we have a really strong team. The fact that some of the strongest teams in Africa have not qualified gives us an even better chance this time, but we should not underestimate anyone.

Who are the other strongest contenders in the tournament?
I think this year there are a few teams we have to take into account, such as Senegal and Morocco, who have performed really well in the qualification stage. But of course the Ivory Coast are a very strong contender. They have a really strong team with amazing players playing for some of the best teams in Europe: Didier Drogba, Kolo and Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou to name just a few.

What do you make of the fact that many of Africa's traditional powers haven't qualified?
I think it's a good thing for African football. A few years ago, everybody knew who the strongest teams in our continent were, and the fact that some of them have not qualified for this year's Africa Cup of Nations shows that the rest of the teams are raising their level, which makes it tougher to qualify for the tournament.

This, together with the increasing number of African players playing in the best European clubs and leagues, is proof of the continuing improvement of African football.

NEWS, 19/01/12: Fit-again Gyan nets in final Ghana friendly

More stars, more analysis, more besides at our Africa Cup of Nations blog section.