Stars dare Algeria…In no defeat, no surrender clash

FxsGHANA’S journey to revive their fortunes at the AFCON 2015 in Equatorial Guinea starts today with a crunch tie against the Desert Foxes of Algeria at the Estadio de Mongomo.

The Foxes occupy the top spot of Group ‘C’ by virtue of a dominant performance that earned them a 3-1 win over South Africa and are tipped to run over the Ghanaians if the performances of the two should be used as yardstick to judge them.

Ghana, on the other hand, threw away a first half lead through Dede Ayew to suffer a painful 2-1 defeat in their group opener against Senegal.

Ahead of the clash, Ghanaian fans seem to have lost confidence in the Stars, hoping coach Avram Grant and his charges would dig deep to put up something extraordinary.

The expected return of skipper Asamoah Gyan and John Boye to the first team is seen by a section of the game’s pundit as positive news for the Black Stars especially Gyan whose presence will boost Grant’s strike force.

But the news that the Foxes are also effecting changes with barely 24 hours to the big game suggest that they are in no mood for compromise.

Algeria trainer Christian Gourchoff will ring some few changes in his team to ward off the anticipated threat to be posed by Gyan and is likely to introduce the experienced centre-back and general skipper Madjid Bouguerra to the first team.

Bouguerra will thus partner Turkey-based Carl Medjani as Rafik Halliche is dropped to the bench.

Upfront, BBC African footballer of the year and FC Porto’s Yacine Nasr Eddine Brahimi will partner Islam Slimani with the likelihood of youngster Riyadh Mahrez who started on the wings against South Africa replacing Inter Milan’s Saphir Sliti Taider.

Given Taider’s multifaceted playing style, solid physical tangibles and a tireless runner, he will be tasked with cutting supplies to Ghana’s attack, especially Gyan.

That will no doubt put a lot of pressure on the Stars defense, the reason why the defense built around Harrison Afful, Baba Rahman and Daniel Amartey must remain focus for the entire period of the game.

Tactically, Gourchoff will play a more compact midfield; try to score within the first quarter of the game ostensibly by exploiting Ghana’s wings. Against South Africa, a lot of crosses were directed at Sofiane Feghouli.

Algeria will also want to score early, and or keep a clean sheet in order to make Ghana uncomfortable. Once that is achieved, the Foxes will sit back and rely on ruthless counter attacks.

Though unclear whether Grant will maintain his 3-5-2 system, the likes of Rabiu Mohammed, Dede Ayew, Agyemang Badu must work overtime to combat the Algerian threat.

By Andrew Nortey

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