Pantsil picked by Ghana

John Pantsil has been confirmed in Ghana's final 23-man squad for the 2008 African Cup of Nations.

The host nation are preparing in the United Arab Emirates for the finals before returning to Accra in time for the big kick-off on 20 January. Ghana are four-time winners and, as hosts, expectation is high that they will go all the way to the final of the continental championship on 10 February.

"Our people are expecting more from the Ghanaian players - they want us to take the cup," Pantsil said. "In previous years, the hosts have won and they are expecting us to do the same."

The 26-year-old Pantsil came to global attention with his form at the 2006 World Cup. His international breakthrough came five years earlier as part of the Ghana side that finished runners-up at the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship and he has also played at the 2002 and 2006 African Cup of Nations.

Ghana begin their Group A campaign against Guinea on Sunday week before taking on Namibia four days later. The group matches end against Morocco on 28 January. The group winners and runners-up progress to the quarter-finals to be played on 3/4 February with the semi-finals held on 7 February. There is the potential that Pantsil could ultimately meet West Ham United colleague Henri Camara, who is in the Senegal squad.