Bata: Ghana are just one game away from ending a 33-year wait for a fifth Africa Cup of Nations title after dumping hosts Equatorial Guinea in a violence-marred semi-final.
The Black Stars showed character in a 3-0 triumph delayed by a 30-minute stoppage due to crowd trouble to set up a dream final against Ivory Coast in Bata Sunday.
After a troubled 2014 World Cup campaign that included the Ghanaian government having to fly millions of dollars to Brazil to appease rebellious Black Stars and an opening-day 2-1 Cup of Natlons loss to Senegal, not even the most fervent fans fancied the team`s chances.
A Ghanaian official lamented after the loss to Senegal that "we are here with a very poor team. It will be something of a miracle if we even get out of our group".
The Black Stars not only got through the `group of death`, they topped it with hard-fought wins over Algeria and South Africa before cruising past Guinea 3-0 in the quarter-finals.
"This young team have shown great mentality, good attitude, especially after what happened at the World Cup," said Ghana coach Avram Grant.
The former Chelsea manager took charge of the Black Stars only two months ago, but was presented with a cherished 60th birthday gift Thursday.
"It is good to be in the final. Before the tournament, nobody gave us a chance. Everyone talked about the other teams. Now we are in the final and we want to win."
Stand-in skipper Andre Ayew saluted the fighting spirit of the team.
"We have won here in Equatorial Guinea with sheer guts (and) a lot of will power," said the Marseille midfielder, whose three goals place him among the five leading scorers in the competition.
"We have played here as a team and now we can take something back to Ghana."
The last time the Black Stars were champions of Africa was in 1982 when Andre`s father, the legendary Abedi `Pele` Ayew, was part of the team.
However, for the past four tournaments beginning with the 2008 edition which they hosted, Ghana have been knocking on the door as they have not failed to qualify for the last-four and even reached the 2010 final before losing to Egypt.
On Sunday, they will be up against a team who denied them a fifth continental title in 1992 after a penalty-shootout end to the final which Ivory Coast won 11-10.