Ghana Black Stars’ avowed resolution to wrap up qualification for the 2022 African Cup of Nations faces a stern test today at the hands of Sudan in Khartoum.
The Group C cracker will see the third-placed Sudanese roar all day in a bid to register a second win in the group and hand themselves a fighting chance to make it to the Cameroon 2022 biennial fiesta.
Inspired by a delectable captain Andre Ayew performance, the Stars upstaged Sudan 2-0 in the first of a double-header held at an empty Cape Coast Stadium last Thursday.
Ayew did not only commandeer a compelling Ghana victory, but produced two bewitchingly fascinating strikes that gave the nation lots of hope treading into the future. Sadly, the Swansea attacking midfielder would not be in action this afternoon after failing a late fitness test.
Steely central defender, John Boye, is tipped to lead the team.
Without any scintilla of doubt, Andre’s absence will be much of a blow to Ghana, though it gives other players a gleaming opportunity to step into his ‘big’ shoes and make a case for themselves.
Heartily, Crystal Palace midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp, Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Majeed Ashimeru and China-based Mubarak Wakaso – who all missed the opening header – have arrived in Khartoum for the cagey duel, hoping to churn out a sterling output to push the dream through.
Interestingly, Legon Cities’ shot-stopper Fatau Dauda has wriggled his way back into the team to replace Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori-Antwi, who is suspended due to accumulation of cards.
Victory for the Stars will certainly land them in the Cameroon tournament; anything else would mean a tedious delay in qualification.
Moments after the Cape Coast nerve-jangling tie, Sudan French coach Hubert Velud, launched a scathing attack on referee Maguette Ndiaye, whose performance he described as “very bad.”
Velud had claimed his side was hard-done by, having been denied a penalty six minutes after the half-hour mark after John Boye’s strong challenge on striker Abdel Rahman in the area.
Generally, the Sudanese were a delight to watch as they struck the ball beautifully around – occasionally making the Stars look ordinary. This was confirmed by Captain Ammar Tayfour.
“We played a good match and we explored the Ghanaian team during the match and we will be ready for the return match.”
Clearly, the home team would want to explode into the afternoon and snatch the result in an empty stadium occasioned by COVID-19. They are aware anything aside victory could throw their campaign into tatters, and would dash for the jugular.
A potentially absorbing tie is expected with a few bodies expected to splatter across the field.
BY JOHN VIGAH