Ghana’s quest to clinch the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations trophy faces its critical test when the Black Stars B face the Syli Nationale of Guinea at the Cape Coast Stadium tonight in the first group clash.
Ghana benefitted from a late penalty against the Gambia last Saturday to move into the group phase and face very tough challenges as Mali and Nigeria lie in wait for Maxwell Konadu’s charges later in the tournament.
Fate has paired the two sides in Group A alongside one of the tournament’s favourites, Nigeria, as well as Mali which promises some blockbuster clashes in the competition.
The Ghana coach who watched as his side laboured to beat less-fancied Gambia 1-0 last Saturday and has had enough rest to review his tactics and watch the Guineans who defeated Guinea- Bissau 2-1 to reach the group stage, and also plan to face the Malians (3-1 winners against Mauritania) on Saturday and Nigeria next Monday.
Guinea’s performance in the competition suggests they would give their Ghanaian opponents a good run for their money in tomorrow’s game in Cape Coast.
Konadu’s men showed little aggression in their opening game and were not clinical upfront. But many believe Ghana are traditional slow starters in competitions and could hit the right note as the competition heats up to eventually win the group.
To achieve this, Coach Konadu is expected to fine-tune his attacking machinery built around Kwame Kizito and Stephen Sarfo to make them more clinical tomorrow and avoid wasting chances as they did against the Scorpions last Saturday.
The Black Stars B will play under the weight of expectation to put last Saturday’s poor showing behind them and lift-up their game to make a strong statement about their intention to host and win the tournament as compensation for their failure to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship.
That ambition was amply stated by Amos Frimpong last Monday when he told the Graphic Sports that the team was focused to win the trophy even without monetary inducement.
On the Guinean side, coach Hamidou Camara, whose side progressed at the expense of Guinea-Bissau, would hope to repeat the same dose against the Ghanaians with a side led by Seko Keita and Abdoulaye Camara who are ready to fire them to victory.
Earlier in the week the Guinea coach stated his side’s readiness for any opponent, with the Black Stars not appearing as a potential threat to their ambition of walking away with the $100,000 prize money. “We are looking forward to the rest of the tournament, but we are taking it one game at a time and [we will] give our best performances,” a confident Camara said.
In the first group match, Nigeria take on Mali in Cape Coast at 3p.m.