Today January 20, 2022

Black Stars’ quest to end 40-year trophy drought begins with Morocco test

Ghana’s Black Stars begin their quest to end their 40-year horrendous African Cup Nations (AFCON) trophy drought when they take on the Atlas Lions of Morocco at the 33rd edition of the continental football showpiece in Cameroon.

The group C opener scheduled for the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé would witness two of the group favourites lock horns with the aim of having a firm grasp in the group and also boost their qualification chances.

Ghana’s Black Stars who have won the competition four-times last shined at Africa’s football showpiece 40 years ago in Libya but for the Atlas Lions the last time they roared to glory at the AFCON was 46 years ago in Ethiopia.

It is clear both sides enter the competition with loads of pressure back home as they look to end this continental drought despite being considered as two of African heavyweights.

Last AFCON outing

The Black Stars failed to win their group opener in the last edition of the tournament held in Egypt as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Benin and have often been regarded as slow starters in most of their international outings.

Black Stars shockingly exited the last edition of the AFCON in the Round of 16 against Tunisia despite making it to the semifinals in previous five editions of the AFCON but would be looking to make amends this time around.

Morocco on the other hand also suffered a Round of 16 exit at the last edition after being knocked out by Benin but this time round go into the tournament as one of the favourites to annex the trophy which would be the second time in the football history.

Team News

Ghana

The issue of captaincy did have a dreadful effect on the Black Stars in their last outing but this time round there is no doubt that Andre Ayew would be looking to lead the team win its fifth AFCON trophy.

His brother Jordan Ayew is expected to make his 74th appearance for the Black Stars equaling the record of Kwadwo Asamoah.

Jordan Ayew has misfired in front of goal in past months but his recent form for Crystal Palace should be a boost for Milovan Rajevac who has instilled trust in the striker.

Benjamin Tetteh is expected to make his first appearance at the AFCON having led Ghana’s attack in recent matches.

Fatawu Issahaku who is among the local players to be handed a call up for the tournament should force his way through Milovan’s line up but for David Abagna and Maxwell Quaye it is certain they would not make the starting XI.

Morocco

The Atlas Lions despite missing Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech (Left Out) and Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui (Injury) having lots of exciting talents to call upon especially Barcelona youngster Abdessamad Ezzalzouli.

The Moroccans have vast experience in their back-line with the likes of Wolves’ defender Romain Saiss and PSG’s Achraf Hakimi who are all expected to start for the Atlas Lions.

Bosnia coach Halilhodzic is expected to have the full complement of his team with no major injuries no COVID-19 positive cases.

Reports of Moroccans traveling with a five-tonne cargo flight which included personal chefs, ingredients to cook their food, their own water, security detail, mattresses, among others indicates their preparedness for the tournament.

Tactical Approach

Ghana’s coach Milovan Rajevac is expected to stick with his 4-2-3-1 formation, a tactical shape he deployed in his last friendly outing against Algeria, a match they lost by three goals.

The defensive partnership of Daniel Amartey and Alexander Djiku is expected to be maintained with Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom occupying the left and right back position respectively.

Baba Iddrisu and Thomas Partey would be the holding two midfielders with Partey often leading the attacking charge while Dede Ayew and Jordan Ayew operating from both flanks.

Benjamin Tetteh should be the top marksman for the Black Stars with Fatawu Issahaku occupying the number 10 role in the absence of Kudus Mohammed who is yet to join the team.

The Moroccans have had a solid defense having conceded just once in six matches during the 2021 AFCON qualifiers and finished five points above runners Mauritania.

The Atlas Lions have been ruthless in front of goal during their matches in 2022 World Cup having scored 20 goals from six matches

Ghana’s possible starting lineup:

Jojo Wallocot (GK) Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Baba Rahman, Andy Yiadom, Thomas Partey, Baba Iddrisu, Fatawu Issahaku, Dede Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Benjamin Tetteh.

Morocco’s possible starting lineup:

Yassine Bounou (GK), Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss, Nayef Aguerd, Tarik Tissoudali, Sofyan Amrabat, Faycal Fajr, Aymen Barkok, El Haddadi, Munir, Sofiane Boufal, Youssef En-Nesyri

Time: 16: 00 GMT (Monday)

Source: Ghana News Agency

hammad

hammad

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