Ghana’s Black Stars will chase their quarter final ticket at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) today when they lock horns with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in a round of 16 clash at the Ismailia Stadium.
Ghana topped Group F after drawing in her first two matches before recording their first win at the competition; a 2-0 victory over Guinea Bissau to overtake Cameroon on superior goal advantage.
The story is different for the Tunisians who are yet to taste victory at the competition.
Tunisia drew against Angola, Mali and Mauritania, qualifying through the lottery of one of the best third places.
Having scraped through that narrow way, the Carthage Eagles, will face, perhaps, the most difficult test so far against the Ghanaians whose confidence seem to have soared after laboring to beat Guinea Bissau 2-0.
Sadly, they face a daunting challenge of changing the trend of results against the Black Stars, having conceded six defeats in the hands of the Ghanaians with their positive being a drawn encounter.
Clearly, that hands the advantage to the Ghanaians who have become even more careful as a result of the shocks recorded at the round of 16 stage of the competition.
With heavyweights such as host nation Egypt, defending champions Cameroon and Morocco bowing out of the race, the road is becoming clearer for the few that have stayed in the competition till now.
As of Friday, Coach Kwesi Appiah recorded a full turn out at the team’s training session with absentees like Thomas Adjepong and Jonathan Mensah undergoing full scale training.
That leaves him with the luxury of parading a very formidable side capable of beating the Tunisians to maintain their stranglehold over them.
For the first time after the team’s opener, Appiah may have his centre back pairing of John Boye and Nuhu Kassim to be complemented by Baba Rahman on the left and Andy Yiadom on the right lateral backs.
His headache, however, may be the imminent changes required at the midfield area after Thomas Partey impacted positively when given an offensive role in the second half of their game with Guinea Bissau.
Considering the nature of today’s game which could stretch to extra time or penalty shoot-out in the event the outcome is not decided within regulation time, Appiah has been advised from many quarters to consider changes in his setup for Partey to maintain his advance role.
That will also mean the introduction of Afriyie Acquah to partner Wakaso Mubarak at the holding midfield position.
But the final decision lies with Appiah who understands perfectly the dream and aspiration of Ghanaians and must map up a strategy to ward off any threats from the wounded Eagles who are aiming to cause the next big upset in the competition.
BY ANDREW NORTEY