AFCON 2023: Black Stars out to avoid 2021 shame
Ghana supporters cheer during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Egypt and Ghana at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 18, 2024. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP) (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)
The Black Stars are 90 minutes away from deciding their own fate at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Two Group B games have left the team with just one point, a similar situation they were in two years ago in Cameroon during the 2021 edition of the tournament.
Ghana’s forward Andre Ayew (C) reacts as Malian referee Boubou Traore (R) gives him a red card during the Group C Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Ghana and Comoros at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 18, 2022. (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO/AFP via Getty Images)
What happened next in Cameroon is an experience no Ghanaian or part of the Black Stars team back then wants to recollect.
Chris Hughton’s side started the campaign in Ivory Coast as they did in Cameroon – losing to Cape Verde – then went on to record a dramatic 2-2 draw against Egypt, just as they did against Gabon two years ago, this time under a different coach.
Mozambique, on the other hand, have lost one and drawn the other of their games against Egypt and Cape Verde and will hope they give themselves a chance of advancing from the group at the expense of Ghana.
Mozambique’s defender #4 Nene (C) and his teammates great supporters at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Egypt and Mozambique at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 14, 2024. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Following the draw for the tournament, this was a contest many would have thought would be Ghana’s opportunity to try out the fringe players in the team. However, the players have made it the most difficult game in their tournament.
Ghana are looking to avoid a repetition of the 2006 and 2021 disasters where they exited the competition in the group stage. Ghana seeks to finish as one of the four best-placed sides in the tournament, that is if finishing second becomes impossible.
This will be the second meeting between Ghana and Mozambique at the AFCON after the two teams met in the group stage of the 1996 edition, where Ghana claimed a 2-0 win with Abedi Pele getting on the scoresheet.
In all competitions, the Mambas are yet to pick a win against the Black Stars, suffering four defeats and recording two draws.
What has been said?
Hughton has come under intense pressure in the last few months but the Irish trainer says he understands the importance of the game against Mozambique.
“We know this is a game we have to win”Chris Hughton ahead of the Mozambique clash tomorrow.#JoyAFCON | #AFCON2023 pic.twitter.com/NUIXwGAHD4— #JoyAFCON (@JoySportsGH) January 21, 2024
Ghana defender, Denis Odoi, who is part of 19 players playing at their first-ever AFCON, believes need to avoid the mistakes they have made in their previous games.
Many would think this game will be treated as a final by Ghana but Mozambique’s head coach, Chiquinho Conde, says it will be the same for his side as well.
“We will play against Ghana as if it is the final”Mozambique coach Chiquinho Conde ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Black Stars#JoyAFCON | #AFCON2023 pic.twitter.com/xKuJcAinYT— #JoyAFCON (@JoySportsGH) January 21, 2024
Concerns have been raised about Majeed Ashimeru who came off with a knock in Ghana’s last game against Egypt.
However, Hughton believes the midfielder should be fit for the game against Mozambique and could possibly be in the starting lineup.
Mozambique have no issues as far as injuries and suspensions are concerned.
Ghana’s game against Mozambique is scheduled for Monday, January 22, with kickoff at 8:00 pm.
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