African Nations Cup better than CONCACAF says Fire's Nyarko

The dream is still alive for Chicago Fire winger Patrick Nyarko, and we’re not talking about his designs on playing for the USMNT, which he has indicated previously.

He’s hoping to see his native Ghana advance to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, and they’re still on track after their weekend quarterfinal victory over Tunisia.

“It’s going to be tough, but I’m hoping for Ivory Coast vs. Ghana final,” Nyarko told last week. “Before the tournament started, I picked Ivory Coast to win it but I want Ghana to win it. I think Ivory Coast has the better team, but Ghana is playing very well. I still think we have the hope we might sneak up on them and win it.

“I’m looking forward to a Ghana vs. Ivory Coast final, but there are so many new teams that are emerging. Look at the Nations Cup and you ask where are Nigeria and Cameroon? Where did those big teams go? They didn’t qualify because other teams have emerged.”

Ivory Coast and Ghana are, in fact, on a collision course for a final and they face Mali and Zambia respectively in the semis on Wednesday. Nyarko argues that the rise of new contenders outside the traditional powers is what is making African soccer an up-and-coming force.

“No disrespect to CONCACAF,” says Nyarko, “but I think the Cup of Nations is the second best tournament after the European UEFA championships.”