Ghana’s locally based Black Stars will engage the local Stallions of Burkina Faso in a Championship of African Nations (CHAN) qualifier at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Qualification to the tournament reserved for players plying their trade at home has become an enormous task for the country despite starting as one of the pillars of the competition.
At least, the local Black Stars have missed the last two editions with Burkina Faso handing them the exit ticket at the last time of asking.
Coach of the team, Maxwell Konadu, has ruled out claims that the tie will be a do-or-die affair or one to avenge that painful defeat that dented the team’s return.
At the same stage this year, both countries will lock horns over two legs with the winner snatching the ticket for the continental showpiece.
Armed with lessons from the previous encounters, Coach Maxwell Konadu’s men will march onto the Baba Yara Sports Stadium pitch beaming with confidence to not just defeat the Burkinabes but edge them out of the qualifiers.
The Burkina Faso lads have constant threats to Ghanaian teams in recent times and have come with the intention of replicating what their predecessors achieved.
Once again, their physical presence will be a task the Ghanaians would have to overcome.
Playing the first leg at home, the local Black Stars face the tough task of recording a vintage win ahead of the second leg to be hosted by the visitors.
With that in sight, Coach Maxwell Konadu has assembled a 25-man squad out of which a final 22 will be selected for the championship after qualification.
That quest to make it to the championship looks more of what will drive the Ghanaian players to go the extra mile to achieve qualification and also catch the attention of the selectors.
But in qualifying, a lot will depend on how they perform as a team, especially the attackers who will be expected to be at their shooting best.
Interestingly, the attack will be centred on players that are coming from three rival clubs but would have to shelve their club rivalry to push the national agenda.
Needing a big win to boost their fortunes, Appiah may consider a 4-3-3 system to employ Hearts of Oak’s Joseph Essor, Shafiu Mumuni from Ashgold and Emmanuel Gyamfi of Kotoko to lead the lines.
Gyamfi provides some cushioning in midfield as well and can therefore drop when they lose possession to give the team some solidity in the defensive third where Hearts’ Mohammed Alhassan is expected to partner other competent players to man the back.
But in attacking, it will be important for the local Black stars to be mindful of the spaces to be created in their defensive area which when not handle properly could be exploited by the visitors.
BY ANDREW NORTEY