Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic said on Monday he considers Tuesday?s Africa Cup of Nations Group D opening match here against Botswana a lot more important than the tournament final.
The four-time champions are one of the favourites for the 2012 edition of the competition and they will be up against Botswana, who are making their debut in the tournament.
However, Serbian coach Stevanovic said they will not make the mistake of taking their opponents lightly because of their lack of pedigree.
"Our first game against Botswana is very, very important, more important than even the final because for the final you don?t need any motivation," said Stevanovic.
"This tournament is full of surprises and so we will have to give our maximum, 100% for every game.
"Botswana are a very good opponent having qualified ahead of a team like Tunisia
"We know our quality and for the first game we want to send a message to the other teams we are the team to beat."
Striker Asamoah Gyan, who has declared himself fit for Tuesday?s game after suffering a hamstring injury last month, also share his coach's optimism.
"I have confidence in the Black Stars. We won?t underrate any team. We are ready and we?re fit," said the UAE-based striker.
"We had two weeks of serious training in South Africa and we are fully motivated and ready for our first game.
"We won?t put pressure on ourselves but we also know that it is left for us to deliver."
The Black Stars spent most of Monday studying the match tapes of the Zebras to know what style of football they play and their top players.
They rounded up their preparation with an hour-long work out inside the Franceville Stadium Monday evening.