Ghana, Nigeria to set Cape Coast alight

NigeriaAT long last, the big game that everybody has been waiting restlessly for is here: It is Ghana’s Black Stars B crossing swords with their Nigerian counterparts – the home-based Super Eagles side, at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium this evening.

The appetising Group A clash in the ongoing WAFU Cup of Nations was supposed to have been played last Thursday, but organisers tainted the fixtures to the chagrin of fans of the two alluring sides, who had suitably psyched themselves up for the afternoon.

Heartily, the tension and jumpiness ahead of today’s game is still alive though the Stars have already booked a semi-final spot.  Indeed, matches between Ghana and Nigeria have always evoked such tensed moments – irrespective of the stakes.

However, 72 hours ahead of this evening’s tie, the two teams recorded a whammy of contrasting results. Whilst the Super Eagles drew goalless with Guinea’s Syli Nationale (their second barren result in the group), Ghana overcame a tough Mali side 1-0 to qualify for the last four, having earlier dispatched Guinea 2-0.

Coming into the tournament with their local league already completed, the Nigerians may possess some psychological advantage over the Ghanaians who would be protecting their limbs to aid their clubs in their championship aspirations or relegation fight.  The Ghana Premier League (GPL) still has some four games to go.

Nevertheless, it appears Ghana’s home players are prepared to put that excuse behind them, dash for the jugular and emerge with the bragging rights over Eagles yet again.

The last time the two teams met at the local level (2014 Championship of African Nations), Ghana upstaged Nigeria at the semi-final in a game played at the Free State Stadium (Vodacom Park) in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  They had battled to a scorching barren game, but the Stars held their nerves to win 4-1 at the shoot-out. It was a painful loss.

But many years earlier, the Stars had beaten Nigeria 2-1 in a WAFU Cup tie on February 6, 1987.

Definitely, Nigeria will be coming for revenge and look to pour out in droves to achieve the mission.

Interestingly, Eagles’ coach Salisu Yusuf has been elusive in daring a prediction, aware that the evening could go either way.

“When you talk about a football match between Nigeria and Ghana, it is at a different level,” Yusuf said in a Nigeria Football Federation press release on Tuesday.

“Whether it is a Cup final or a friendly match, both teams give their very best. That is what we are going to do on Thursday, and I am sure the Ghanaians will come to the party with the same mind.

Truth is that, historically, Ghana has had a stranglehold against Nigeria whose proliferate rivalry with the Black Stars dates as far back as the 50s.

Nigeria’s biggest win over Ghana was documented on October 20, 1951 during the Jalco Cup held in Lagos, where the Stars crashed 5-0. But Ghana paid Nigeria in their own coin four years later on October 20, 1955, in the same competition in Accra by demolishing the Eagles 7-0.

Today, that ego-shattering humiliation still remains Nigeria’s worst in football.

Ghana coach Maxwell Konadu would be happy to add to that torture this evening, but his charges – captained by Sarfo Twum, should be ready to work ruthlessly for the result because the Eagles will charge at them like a pack of famished wolves after their prey.

Indeed, Nigeria desperately needs victory to guarantee their future in the campaign. Anything less, the Super Eagles could be on the next available flight to Abuja. This is an embarrassment they would want to avoid.

A thrilling evening of football is fully guaranteed and fans of the two teams would certainly sit on tenterhooks for as long as it lasts.

By John Vigah




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