With their tournament lives on the line, Ghana plays Algeria in the biggest match so far in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The two nations are in Group C along with Senegal and South Africa. Before the event began, many pundits predicted this cluster of teams to be the ‘group of death’ due to the amount of talent on each team. During the first round of matches in AFCON, Algeria beat South Africa 3-1 and Ghana was defeated by Senegal 2-1 with the game winning goal occurring during the last moments of the match. With another loss, the Black Stars are out the tournament. The result would be familiar to fans of the four-time winners of the tournament due to them also losing in the ‘group of death’ during the World Cup. Striker David Accam believes his side has what it takes to defeat Algeria, who are the favorites to win AFCON.
“The team is filled with a lot of quality players and I have no doubt in my mind that we would rise to the occasion. We have spoken amongst ourselves after the defeat to Senegal and we know the importance of this game and to the nation as a whole. We simply cannot afford to bow out at this stage. It would be totally unacceptable. My experience from the first game has given me a lot of confidence and should I be selected, I would give my all to the side in ensuring that we bounce back from the defeat to the Senegalese,” said Accram when speaking to the media Thursday.
The 1990 champions’ current side holds arguably the best midfield in Africa with Nabil Bentaleb, Yacine Brahimi and Sofiane Feghouli leading the way which allows the Desert Warriors to control the middle of the pitch. Striker Islam Slimani is a big target at six-foot-one and is in good form by scoring in his squad’s last match. These four men will be the main compartments to Algeria’s attack and they can exploit Ghana’s main deficiency which is their defense. Avram Grant is Ghana’s latest manager and he has deployed his team to play the recently popular 3-5-2 formation. The shape didn’t look to be effective for the Black Stars and Ghanaian broadcaster Karl Tuffour believes the formation shouldn’t be used by his homeland.
Programming note: For viewers in the United States, the tournament is being shown exclusively on beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS Connect and DishWorld. Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can access the channel via online streaming service DishWorld for $10/month. Sign up for DishWorld via their website. Note that games shown on beIN SPORTS Connect are not accessible via DishWorld.
“I prefer the 3-5-2 system but I don’t think we have the right players for that system in our current team. To play this system effectively, you need lateral players who can defend well and join the attack where necessary to deliver decent crosses,” said Tuffour on Ghana radio station Happy FM’s Anopa Bosuo Sports.
Baba Rahman has been playing great so far for Bundesliga club FC Augsburg and he has the skills to deliver crosses and attack the opposition. The 20-year-old is playing as the left wing-back in the 3-5-2 but his team is lacking quality in the attack for his deliveries to the box due to captain and the Ghana’s all-time leading scorer Asamoah Gyan suffering from a small case of malaria and Abdul Majeed Waris being injured. Also, utilityman Kwadwo Asamoah is out with a knee injury. Veterans Kevin Prince-Boateng, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari were not called up so the Black Stars midfield is also filled with question marks also except for Andre Ayew.
Ghana’s players like winger Christian Atsu, Ayew and defender Jonathan Mensah have been overconfident in their chances against the Desert Warriors talking to the press like they’ll have no issue in the game. On the other hand, Algeria’s manager Christian Gourcuff believes his team will have an easier time facing the Black Stars compared to South Africa. The Frenchman believes the first match created issues for his side due to the Bafana Bafana’s pace and workrate and that Ghana’s style of play will be easier to for his team to exploit.
“The Ghana game suits us better. We are very comfortable with the way they play. We must raise our level of play and I believe we can get a good result against them,” said Gourcuff on Monday.
Prediction: Algeria wins 3-1 over the Black Stars. Ghana’s lack of skilled attackers combined with their newfound pragmatism plays into the Desert Warriors favor. They will control the game by creating multiple chances and Ghana will be sent home earlier than expected.
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