Essien arrives in Angola for African Cup

BY foxsports • January 13, 2010

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien has finally joined his teammates and is available for Friday's African Cup of Nations encounter against Ivory Coast.

The Chelsea star arrived in Angola on Wednesday and flew to the Northern town of Cabinda where the Ghana team is located.

Essien was set to join his teammates Sunday night in Cabinda but was forced to stay in London after extreme weather delayed flights out of England.

"He arrived this morning in Angola. He is with the team," Ghana Football Association's spokesperson Randy Abbey told The Associated Press. "He is ready to play and is available for play. If the coach decides that he will play, he will be available for the game (against Ivory Coast)."

The Black Stars midfielder has recovered from a hamstring injury and is likely to face a fitness test before Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac decides whether he will play.

Essien returned to training last week with Chelsea after picking up his injury during the English club's final Champions League group match against Apoel Nicosia at Stamford Bridge on Dec. 8. He has not played since.

"But he has been training with his club recently and should be physically fit" Abbey said.

Ghana's scheduled opener against Togo on Monday was called off after Togo left the tournament following a deadly attack against its team bus last week. Each team in Group B will consequently only play two games with the top two teams reaching the knockout phase.

The Ivorians will wrap up their group campaign against Ghana and have no room for mistake as they could be eliminated if they lose.

Ghana recently won the Under-20 World Cup and Rajevac said he is likely to use his young talent to try and keep the Ivorians at bay.

"We want to win this competition but this first game is going to be interesting pitting our very young team against one of the best and most experienced sides in Africa," he said.

Ghana, which has won the biennial continental tournament four times, will be without Anthony Annan against the Elephants, with the Norway-based midfielder unavailable due to a hamstring injury.

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