Ghana's No. 1

2021 AFCON Preview Group C: Gabon steeled for tough test against bruised Ghana

Published on: 14 January 2022
2021 AFCON Preview Group C: Gabon steeled for tough test against bruised Ghana
Andre Ayew

Ghana will be looking to get their Africa Cup of Nations campaign up and running when they square off against Gabon at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on Friday.

This will be the first encounter between the sides since 2011, when the Black Stars claimed a 2-1 victory, and they will be desperate for a repeat of the same as more dropped points will be a huge blow to their qualification chances.

In the absence of star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Les Pantheres took the lead shortly after the quarter-hour mark through Aaron-Salem Boupendza before putting on a solid defensive performance to see out the win.

This was a first victory in three games across all competitions for Patrice Neveu's men, who were beaten 2-1 by Egypt in Group F of the World Cup qualifiers on November 16 before playing out a 1-1 draw with Mauritania in a friendly fixture two Tuesdays ago.

Following the result, Gabon currently sit top of Group C, level on points with Morocco, who saw off Ghana 1-0 in their group opener, and victory here will almost certainly confirm their place in the knockout stages.

However, they go up against an opposing side who they have lost against in each of the last two meetings between the sides, with their most recent defeat coming back in 2011 when they were beaten 2-1 in a friendly fixture.

Meanwhile, Ghana were denied a dream start to their AFCON campaign as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of high-flying Morocco on Monday.

Following an uneventful first half, former Southampton man Sofiane Boufal netted with seven minutes remaining on the clock to hand the Atlas Lions all three points and leave the West African side bottom of the group.

This followed a 3-0 loss at the hands of reigning African champions Algeria in a warm-up friendly clash on January 5, when Columbus Crew defender Jonathan Mensah scored an own goal either side of strikes from Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani.

Worrying for the Black Stars is their recent woes at the attacking end of the pitch, where they have managed just three goals in their last five games — with one coming from the penalty spot — since putting three past Zimbabwe back in October.

With Morocco likely to edge out an inexperienced Comoros side, who are making their debut at the tournament, Friday's game is a must-win for Ghana, who are currently 52nd in the latest FIFA World Rankings.

Gabon possible starting lineup: Amonome; Palun, Manga, Obissa, Sambissa; Poko, Kanga; Autchanga, Allevinah, Bouanga; Boupendza

Ghana possible starting lineup:  Wollacott; Rahman, Djiku, Armatey, Yiadom; Baba, Partey; Paintsil, A Ayew, Kyereh; J Ayew

TXT: Sportsmole

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