Ghana’s Black Stars have reached the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in all the last seven editions, but stand a chance to miss out on a place in the last 16 for Egypt 2019 if they fail to pick maximum points against Guinea Bissau in Suez on Tuesday evening.
Kwesi Appiah’s charges are on only two points after back-to-back draws in their opening two games against Cameroon and Benin and are faced with a must win situation against the Djurtus to remain in the competition.
A draw might suffice to see them through the last 16, but that will mean they have to wait for favors from Group E matches for them to be sure of making it as one of the best four third placed teams but this is an arithmetic that Appiah and his charges want to avoid by all costs.
They have been far from convincing in their opening two games and pressure is mounting on the four-time winners of Africa’s flagship football tournament.
Newcastle winger Christian Atsu will be missing after picking up a hamstring injury after just 14 minutes in their match against Cameroon and has been effectively ruled out of the tournament giving Appiah and his backroom staff some headache.
Though Samuel Owuso who came in for him was impressive, Atsu’s experience will be hugely missed by the Ghanaians.
Meanwhile, Guinea Bissau who are bottom of the group with just one point off their draw with Benin have a chance to qualify as well if they can pick up a win in the match.
Three points will take their tally to four and if Cameroon beats or draws with Benin, then they will finish off second. Even if Benin shocks defending champions Cameroon, Guinea Bissau can still go through as one of the four best third placed teams.
The Djurtus are beaming with confidence especially after their performance against Benin and in only their second appearance at the AFCON have their eyes on earning a historic place in the round of 16.
What they said:
Kwesi Appiah – Ghana coach
We have respect for all teams and it will be the case against Guinea-Bissau after Benin and Cameroon. It's about giving us 100%. I do not think we will have a lot of changes for this game. I have confidence in my team and know that we often enter the competition with difficulty and then we find the right pace. As for Asamoah Gyan, I can tell you that we need him at all times and he is a tactically important player.
Nuhu Kassim - Ghana defender
As the competition progresses, we get to our best level. We try to do our best to achieve a good competition. This is my first AFCON and I am honored to play for my country. My performances have been good and I thank the coach for his confidence in me.
Baciro Candé - Guinea-Bissau coach
We are in a good state of mind and are ready for Ghana. On the financial issues within the team, it's not my role to talk about it. What interests me are the technical and tactical aspects.
José Lopes, Guinea-Bissau midfielder
We are ready as usual to face any team. This time, it's Ghana and in terms of motivation, we feel good about this challenge.