Stars face Algeria today …in final AFCON trial game

Black Stars Head Coach, Milovan Rajevac, will today test his side’s battle readiness for the AFCON 2021 challenge in Cameroon with a friendly match against the defending champions, the Fennec Foxes of Algeria at the Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar at 4pm.

It will be the first trial game for the 28-man squad announced in December for the continental showpiece.

Milo, as he is affectionately known, has trained with the squad without his midfield genius, Mohammed Kudus.

Uncertain about Kudus readiness for the tourney, Milo will find out how the team will perform on the absence of the Ajax aceas they hope to end the 39-year wait for the AFCON Holy Grail.

In the absence of Kudus, the rest of the 27-man squad trained yesterday as they rehearsed their strategies for the tournament.

Ghana is expected to present its best foot forward in the game as it serves as the final brush-up for the side going into the tournament.

Coach Rajevac is looking for the right pair at the heart of the defence and would be watching closely to see who can well partner Daniel Amartey.  

In midfield, he would look at the right blend to drive the team forward as well as get a worthy replacement for Kudus. 

The Algerian coach, Djamel Belmadi has been very lucky in this regard.

He has welcomed the skipper of the team, Riyad Mahrez from English giants, Manchester City, Yacine Brahimi, Said Benrahma from West Ham United and striker Baghdad Bounedjah who scored the winner in the 2019 finals against Senegal to lift the trophy.

Having just returned from their FIFA Arab Cup, Algeria look favourites to beat the Black Stars.

On paper, they looked a well-drilled side and have been tipping to retain the title.

With Mahrez, who is Algeria’s joint AFCON top scorer with six goals between 2015 and 2019, Islam Slimani, Sofiane Feghouli and Ismail Bennacer in the saddle, the Ghana backline of Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku, Jonathan Mensah and Khalid Abdul Mumin would have to overwork themselves to stop the Foxes.

For the Black Stars, the match would provide them a final opportunity to cement a position in the team following the arrival of Milovan Rajevac.

Currently, the team is full of stars but have failed to click as a unit, occasionally lacking consistency in their play as evident in the last round of World Cup qualifiers played against South Africa and Ethiopia.

Beyond that, there were a few positives Coach Milovan can pick ahead of the game and the championship.

Partey’s timely return is the biggest boost for the team.

His absence was harshly felt in the qualifiers he missed and would be a solid addition.

Abdul Fatawu Issahaku has also been a big revelation since his debut in the team.

With the right combination with the Ayew brothers – Andre and Jordan, the Stars would boast an impressive attacking force that will show their readiness to conquer Africa.

The team would depart Doha for Cameroon on Friday ahead of their Group C opener against North African giants Morocco on January 10.

They would then take on the Panthers of Gabon on Friday, January 14 and move to Garoua to play debutants Comoros at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium on Tuesday, January 18.

Below is Ghana’s full squad for the championship:

Goalkeepers: Joseph Wolacott, Abdul Manaf Nurudeen, Richard Attah, Lawrence Ati Zigi.

Defenders: Andy Yiadom, Philemon Baffuor, Baba Abdul Rahman, Gideon Mensah, Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku, Jonathan Mensah, Khalid Abdul Mumin.

Midfielders: Baba Iddrissu, Edmund Addo, Thomas Teye Partey, Mubarak Wakaso, Mohammed Kudus, Daniel Kofi Kyere, David Abagna.

Forwards: Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, Samuel Owusu, Kamal Deen Suleymana, Dede Ayew, Joseph Paintsil, Jordan Ayew, Richmond Boakye Yiadom, Maxwell Abbey Quaye and Benjamin Tetteh.

BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY

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