JOHANNESBURG - Asamoah Gyan won't take a penalty in regular play for Ghana at the African Cup of Nations after his mother asked him not to just two weeks before she died.
The Ghana captain said he would take his late mother's advice into the tournament in South Africa after costly recent misses for his team that he conceded on Wednesday had left him "psychologically down" and forced him to take a break from international football.
Gyan's mother died in November after a car accident in Ghana.
"I lost my mum recently and the one thing she said two weeks before she died, she emphasized, was these penalty kicks," Gyan said on Ghana's arrival for the African Cup. "I have to respect her decision for me not taking penalties for the team."
Gyan's crucial misses included in the dying minutes of extra time in the World Cup quarterfinals against Uruguay in South Africa in 2010 that denied the Black Stars history as the first African team to make the semifinals.
He also missed in the semifinals of last year's African Cup and Ghana went on to lose to eventual champion Zambia.
Gyan was philosophical after a pocket of chanting Ghana supporters welcomed him and his team to South Africa, and offered extra cheers for the captain.
"Things happen in life. Many players miss penalties," Gyan said.
But the striker also said he was affected by his failures from penalties and they forced him to take a break from internationals following the last African Cup.
"That is why I took time off. Because I was psychologically down," he said. "I had to step back to psych myself and then come back to the team."
Gyan leads another Ghana team expected to challenge strongly for the title. The team wants so badly to end a 30-year period of failure at the championship.
Coach Kwesi Appiah is expected to deliver a success, finally, despite not having Europe-based stars Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien available. Appiah also dropped the Ayew brothers, Andre and Ayew, from his final 23 but said he had the players he could "rely on."
"That doesn't mean that the others are no good," Appiah said, "but it's important that we concentrate on those who are representing the nation."
Although Gyan wouldn't be Ghana's No. 1 penalty-taker anymore, he did commit to taking one if his team needed it in another shootout.
"When I have no option but to take it, why not?" Gyan said." A penalty shootout. That will be fine."
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