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Ghana's Black Stars see bright future

© Reuters 2002

BAMAKO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Four-times champions Ghana, who brought an experimental, youthful team to the African Nations Cup, said on Monday they were delighted with their run which ended with Sunday's late 1-0 defeat by old rivals Nigeria in the quarter-finals.

"I'm really satisfied with their performance," said veteran coach Fred Osam-Duodu. "I am proud of my team, it is a youthful side and I say they have done well."

The Black Stars have been in the doldrums for several years following the retirements of players such as Abedi Pele and Tony Yeboah.

Their last Nations Cup title was in 1982, when Osam-Duodu was also in charge, and they have not reached the semi-finals since 1996.

Meanwhile, they have still to break their duck in the World Cup and qualify for the finals. This year's squad contained half a dozen players who were in the side which reached the final of last year's World Youth Championship in Argentina before losing 3-0 to the hosts.

Osam-Duodu, who has twice taken over as caretaker in the last two years, could not say whether he would continue as coach.

"We are going to maintain this team - there will be changes, new faces and old faces and perhaps I will not be the man to handle this throughout," he said.

"I only took over because there was no coach," he added.

Ghana Football Association president Ben Koufie said: "This is definitely our team, we used 2002 as our platform. A lot of these boys have proved that they are ready, that they are good material.

"If we follow a programme, if we do the right thing with the aim of building for tomorrow we will definitely succeed.

"We need continuity, we have spotted the boys. They are good products, we have to make sure they are well nurtured."

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