Kwesi Appiah’s men will be looking to go one better by reaching the final of a tournament in which they were knocked out in the last four a year ago.
That defeat came against surprise winners Zambia in a tournament where they entered as favorites alongside beaten finalists Ivory Coast.
Ghana have won four Africa Cup of Nations titles, but have not lifted the trophy since 1982 when they beat Libya 7-6 on penalties in the final.
With Cameroon, Senegal and record seven times winners Egypt all having failed to qualify for the finals, the tournament in South Africa represents another golden opportunity to end the 31-year quest for a fifth title.
They will be bidding to win the continent’s top prize without experienced campaigners John Mensah and Michael Essien. Until joining Rennes at the turn of the year, Mensah had been without a club since being released by Lyon last summer, while Essien has chosen to focus on Real Madrid, where he is spending a season on loan from Chelsea, rather than attempt to reignite an international career that has been curtailed by injury over the last few years.
Marseille striker Jordan Ayew is the other notable absentee from a squad containing 11 of the players that reached the semi-finals in 2012, but only four who ply their trade in Ghana.
Ayew’s omission is a surprise, given his impressive form for Marseille – he won the club’s Player of the Month award in November – and has promoted much debate in Ghana.
Coach Appiah has insisted that the third son of Ghana legend Abedi Pele has been dropped for footballing reasons.
“Jordan is a good player and has many years ahead of him,” he said. “I don’t think it will be advisable to pinpoint reasons why I dropped him. Ghana has a pool of talents.
“There are thousands of them especially in the local league. If he’s not in now, I have selected the players I believe can deliver for the nation.
“But it doesn’t mean he will not be part of the national team. I have given many players the chance to play and I settled on these ones.”
Ayew will nonetheless be cheering his teammates on, despite what was a shock omission: “I am disappointed but Marseille will gain from this, because they need me in January.
“I wish Ghana good luck and hope my brother comes back to Marseille in February with a medal.”
Jordan’s brother Andre is also absent after he missed the roll call at their final training camp in Abu Dhabi due to a hamstring injury.
The experience of John Paintsil, Christian Atsu, Derek Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah, Anthony Annan and Asamoah Gyan will be vital to Ghana's hopes of success in South Africa.
23-man Ghana Africa Cup of Nations Squad:
Goalkeepers: Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset, Norway), Fatau Dauda (AshantiGold), Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals)
Defenders: John Paintsil (Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Israel), Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), Kissi Boateng (Berekum Chelsea), Wakasu Mubarak (Espanyol, Spain), John Boye (Rennes, France), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Isaac Vorsah (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor, Turkey), Awal Mohammed (Maritzburg United, South Africa)
Midfielders: Christian Atsu (FC Porto, Portgal), Anthony Annan (Osasuna, Spain), Derek Boateng (Dnipro Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine), Agyemang Badu (Udinese, Italy), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus, Italy), Albert Adomah (Bristol City, England), Rabiu Mohammed (Evian, France), Solomon Asante (Berekum Chelsea)
Forwards: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, UAE), Emmanuel Clottey (Esperance, Tunisia), Boakye Yiadom (Sassuolo, Italy).
Player to Watch:
Kwadwo AsamoahThe midfielder joined Juventus from Udinese last summer and has comfortably made the step up in quality with the scudetto winners. Asamoah has been converted from a central midfielder into a wing-back with the Turin club but has caught the eye with some heavyweight performances in serie A and the Champions League. Asamoah’s versatility means he is already being considered to occupy Ghana’s troublesome left-back slot.
What They Say:
Kwadwo Asamoah (midfielder)“When I went there (Juventus) it wasn’t easy because I went there as a midfielder. But now I play on the wings both forward and at the back. I think the training helped me a lot because we train a lot in Italy.” (Ghanasoccernet.com)
Group Matches:20th January, 2013 v Congo
24th January, 2013 v Mali
28th January, 2013 v Niger