After failing to turn on the style against the Young Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the semi-finals of the ongoing Africa Under-23 tournament on Tuesday, the Black Meteors will this afternoon attempt to pluck the final ticket available for the 2020Tokyo Olympics when they play the Amaglug-glug of South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium at 2 pm.
Playing at their first-ever U-23 AFCON since the tournament’s inception in 2011 tournament, the Black Meteors were hoping to secure an Olympic Games slot as well as go for the ultimate but that dream fizzled out into thin air with a 3-2 penalty defeat, setting a date against the South African who also fell 3-0 at the hands of hosts Egypt in the other semi-final tie.
With just a win from four games, coach Ibrahim Tanko and his charges are well aware of what this game means to the expectant Ghanaianfans who cannot wait any longer to see them answer the roll at the next Olympic Games, after a 15-yearwait.
Speaking ahead of the game today, Coach Tanko is leaving nothing to chance as he believes he and his side must fulfill a promise made to Ghanaians before the tournament.
“Before the start of the tournament we promised Ghanaians two things, one was winning the tournament and the other was qualifying for the Olympic Games. We missed the chance to win the trophy; now we cannot afford not to qualify for the Games.”
Knowing what is at stake in this game, there will be pressure on both sides to win. However, the side would be inspired by the Black Stars’ recent 2-0 victory over the Bafana Bafana team last week in the AFCON qualifiers.
“We know how strong the South Africans are, but we also know how to deal with them,” he added.
Midfielder Evans Mensah acknowledges the pressure of trying to perform to the expectations of Ghanaians, stating that “we will stop at nothing to give them something to cheer about from today’s game.”
For the South African head coach David Notoane, the chance to clinch a second successive appearance at the Olympics, is a huge motivationgoing into the game, assuring they will come out all guns blazing.
Notoane’s side reached the semi-finals on a resolute defence, conceding zero goals. However, that record was blown away by Egypt. But the 50 year-old is believing his compact style of play will help him prevail over the Black Meteors.
As the only coach to have defeated Cote d’Ivoire at the tournament, Notoane believes with the turn of events, he has a side that will beat Ghana.
Goalkeeper Darren Johnson also shares the same sentiment of his coach, stating that the morale among his team-mates is high and beating Ghana today is a plot they will execute with style.
The Pharaohs of Egypt will slug it out with the Young Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire for the title at 6 pm.
Yaw Yeboah – Meteors captain