To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
27 Jan 2008 08:34
Ghana need only to draw their last Group A game on Monday against Morocco to keep alive their dream of winning the Africa Cup of Nations on home turf.
Mathematically it is still possible for Morocco or Guinea to secure the two tickets to the quarterfinals, but two wins out of two have left the Black stars in the strongest position in the group.
Ghana must face Morocco without key midfielder Laryea Kingston who is suspended after picking up a second yellow card in Ghana’s’ muted 1-0 win over group minnows Namibia.
In the Hearts midfielder’s absence coach Claude Le Roy will be forced to switch tactics for Monday’s clash in Accra.
“We’re going to make some changes because of Kingston’s absence. His absence is a concern but I believe there are equally good players in the team who can take up his role.”
The Frenchman, in his sixth Nations Cup, insists that despite only needing a point, Ghana will be aiming to finish the first round as table toppers.
“It’s always a problem to decide whether to be cautious and wait.
For me that’s a bad strategy, or the best if you want to lose 1-0!
“The Black Stars don’t have the capacity to play like that, it’s not our style.
“Cameroon for example are so strong defensively they can wait, but my team likes to play, to create, so we’ll play our normal attacking game against Morocco.”
Assessing the strength of the opposition from north Africa, Le Roy, who won the title with Cameroon in 1988, said: “I’ve got a lot of respect for them but they’re under pressure, we’re not.”
Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo’s first half goal saved Ghana against Namibia but despite the slender scoreline Le Roy was adamant he had full confidence in his strikers to do the business on Monday.
Agogo’s fellow attacker Asamoah Gyan was especially out of sorts in the last game, missing an open goal and the Udinese forward was eventually taken off in the second half.
But Le Roy said: “I’ve got the same confidence in my strikers as I had before the first minute of the first game.”
Morocco are out to wreck Ghana’s party but Henri Michel’s side have it all to do after their opening 5-1 win over Namibia was followed by a 3-2 loss to Guinea.
Michel, summing up the task ahead, told a press conference at the team’s beachside hotel: “The question’s simple, the answer diifficult—we have to beat Ghana, in Ghana, if we’re to continue our journey otherwise we’ll be going home.”
Against Guinea Morocco appeared to miss Soufiane Alloudi, the Al-Ain striker who scored a hat-trick against Namibia only to pick up a right knee injury.
Asked if the forward would be fit for Monday Michel replied: “He got injured, he’s received treatment, now he’s recovering.
“I can’t say whether he’ll be back for Morocco, I’m waiting to see.”
For one member of the squad, captain Youssef Safri, the Atlas Lions’ hopes of getting their paws on a first title since 1976 are slight.
The Southampton midfielder commented: “I think we have no chance to win this cup, actually we would be lucky to qualify for the next round.
“We have a few good players among our squad, but not good enough to contest against the like of Cote d’Ivoire or Egypt.
“African football is gearing up and it’s becoming very hard to catch up with such a momentum.”
But on a more optimistic note he added: “If we avoid the silly mistakes we made against Guinea and play with the heart of a lion we could shock Ghana and qualify.”
Cynics in Accra feel Morocco face an added burden in that as hosts Ghana could be favoured by the referee at their expense.
Tackled on this Michel answered diplomatically.
“I always have full confidence in referees.
Create Account | Lost Your Password?