Coach Avram Grant has expressed confidence and readiness of his 23 man Squard and their unwavering commitment to playing for victory in the final 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers game against Rwanda at the Accra Sports Stadium today.
Admitting his disappointment following the ‘ordeal’ Black Stars players went through as they began their preparations for the game
Undoubtedly, the Black Stars of Ghana have already secured their ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations which will be taking place in Gabon early next year and this game is more or less an academic exercise for the stars.
Ghana’s Preparation for this particular game is obviously one of the most muddled experience the nation has witnessed in two decades, considering the whirlwind that is fiercely blowing between the Ministry of Sports and the Football Association, where players had to go through the hustle of buying their own air tickets for the game against Rwanda.
The normal camping that precede games of the Black Stars was delayed as the Minister kept saying there was no budget for the game. The playing body its self is not complete as transfer deadline day in Europe meant players were given extra days off to sort out their club future before reporting to camp.
The unfortunate Injuries to key players like Andre Ayew, Rabiu Mohammed and concerns over the fitness of iconic striker Aasamoha Gyan has given opportunities to home-based players like Emmanuel Ocran, Asante Kotoko’s Dauda Mohammed and Bechem United’s Abednago Tetteh.
For Rwanda they come into this game with six points in third place seven points behind their host but they will be spurred by a little history.
Taking you back to 2003, a Jimmy Gatete strike at the Amahoro Stadium against Ghana dented the Black Stars’ chances of making it to the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia. Rwanda qualified at the expense of Ghana, making it their first and only Afcon appearance to date.
The defeat against the minnows still remains a scar for Ghanaians. They know the Stars’ absence from the 2004 Afcon still remains the only Afcon Ghana has missed in the 21st century. Rwanda v Ghana 2003 was the game which saw the end of Germany’s Bukhard Ziese’s reign as head coach for the Black Stars.
Thirteen years on, the two teams are set to lock horns once again for another Afcon slot. A lot has happened since the two teams met with Ghana on the rise and Rwanda arguably on the same level as all those years ago.
The game might not have true value with regards to qualification but Ghana’s 60-year-old Israeli coach is of the view that Ghana should always win games against minors like Rwanda.
“My team deserves respect and applauds for the way they have played in the qualification series,” Grant told the Press before the game
“The last Africa Cup of Nations Ghana secured qualification in the last game against Togo, this time around we secured qualification with a game to spare so what do you do to the players? You applaud them and not punish them.
TEAM NEWS GHANA:
Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan is out of this one like he was in the last two games, he has been excused to concentrate on his new club.
West Ham United record signing Andre Ayew is also out of this one with a long term injury.
Newly signed Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu arrived in camp barely 24 hours before the game and Aston Villa Villa forward Jordan Ayew will be assessed to see if he can start the game.
Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey is expected to start the game ahead of first choice Razak Brimah but Harrison Afful, Baba Rahman, Jonathan Mensah and John Boye are all expected to start the game.
U.S based David Accam is expected to start upfront with Asante Kotoko’s Dauda Mohammed having an outside chance to pair him upfront.
TEAM NEWS RWANDA:
Interim Rwanda coach Jimmy Mulisa omitted five players from his squad before settling on 18 players for the game.
His team is dominated by home-based players and the target is that they will provide the power needed to finish with a flourish.
Skipper Haruna Niyonzima is expected to pull the strings from midfield while AS Kigali striker Ernest Saguire is expected to lead the line up top.
Rayon Sports’ keeper Eric Ndayishimiye, who got substituted in their last game, is likely to start in goal while foreign based central defenders Salomon Nirisarike and Emery Bayisenge will form