A TOP-star-depleted Ghana senior national team, will test the strength of Canada in a special friendly at 7.30pm tonight, hoping to churn out a superlative performance, despite missing a couple of marquee names.
Tonight’s game – one of the many friendlies on the FIFA Match Day, takes place at the RFK Stadium in Washington DC and it is expected to rekindle a historic football rivalry between the two countries.
The Black Stars are missing captain Asamoah Gyan and his assistant Andre Dede Ayew as well as the flamboyant Chritian Atsu – all as a result of injuries; but the saturnine situation paves way for four new boys who would be eager to seize the opportunity to waltz into the heart of head coach Avram Grant.
The quartet – defenders Phil Ofosu-Ayeh (Eintracht Braunschweig, Germany), Gideon Baah (HJK Helsinki, Finland), and midfielders Kwadwo Poku (New York City FC, USA) and Lloyd Sam (New York Red Bulls, USA) are reported to be in fine fettle, having produced some delectable football for their clubs this season.
The two teams are meeting for the second time since 1985 and experts believe Les Rouges, as the Canadians are christened, would pose a decent challenge to the Stars who are currently ranked 27th – 78 places above them.
According to Washington-based veteran Ghanaian sports journalist, Samuel Kissiedu, a hungry desire to repeat history and the urge for revenge have created suspense and generated interest in this friendly.
Canada recorded that memorable victory on June 2, 1985 in Seoul, during The Presidents Cup; an international tournament hosted by the South Koreans at the time.
Ghana football may have come a long way though since that loss, having been to three World Cup tournaments (2006, 2010 and 2014) as against one by Canada.
Indeed, Canada’s most significant achievements in international football were winning the 1985 CONCACAF Championship, a feat that guaranteed them a place in the 1986 FIFA World Cup tournament and annexing the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup to qualify for the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup.
That notwithstanding, Les Rouges (The Reds) cannot be taken for granted as Coach Benito Floro hopes to parade a blend of youth and experience that will feature the fiercely prolific veteran top scorer Dwayne De Rosario on top of attack. The 37-year-old Rosario, who has 22 goals to his credit, is currently unattached.
In the absence of Gyan and Ayew, the mandate of leadership falls on the combative midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang Badu who has promised Ghanaians of a good showing tonight.
The Ghana team still has a decent number of regulars and could use their experience to bulldoze their way out of the shadows of a Canadian team that would celebrate a stunning double over the Stars in 30 years.
John Boye, Jordan Ayew, Majeed Warris, Mubarak Wakaso and David Accam are some of the names that carry the expectations of Ghanaians.
The Stars are currently preparing for their own World Cup qualifying campaign. In November. they will meet the winner of Comoros and Lesotho in the second round of CAF qualifiers.
According to organisers of the match, Ghanaian music group Ruff n Smooth and Bizzi B will be providing half-time entertainment.
By John Vigah