Ghanaians will be given the strongest possible hint of their Qatar World Cup expectation when the Black Stars take on Switzerland in their final brush-up at the Al-Nahyan Sports Stadium, Abu Dhabi, this morning.
Today’s international friendly comes barely 96 hours after Ghana unveiled its Andre Dede Ayew-led final 26 squad for what is the nation’s fourth World Cup appearance.
It is the third of such friendlies lined up for the Stars after the humbling 3-0 loss to Brazil and a lame 1-0 win over Nicaragua in September. A sweet right-footed first-half thunderbolt from Sporting CP forward Abdul Fatawa Issahaku, secured that win for Otto Addo’s side.
The experienced Swiss, on the other hand, accounted for Czech Republic 2-1 in their most recent game – with first-half goals from Nottingham Forest midfielder Remo Freuler and AS Monaco attacker Breel Embolo, sealing off the transaction.
The Qatar-bound Ghana and Switzerland are meeting for the first time at this level, and the morning should generate an amperage of hard-nosed intensity on the field as they test the preparedness of their players ahead of the Mundial.
For Ghanaians, they will be looking to see the Stars play some cohesive football – stirring enough to offer them hope in a tournament many have written Ghana off because of its recent litany of limping performances.
Whilst the Stars have only two players (Ayew brothers) as having World Cup experience, their opponents boasts of a sackful. Indeed, Coach Murat Yakin has not made many notable omissions, as a lot of the regulars have been in the squad since 2014.
Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez, Yann Sommer and Haris Seferovic are among those from the 2014 squad who will feature at a fifth major tournament, while Xherdan Shaqiri is at his sixth.
Clearly, Ghana – who are paired alongside Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay in Group H, will come face-to-face with a formidably organised and unified Swiss outfit who were unbeaten in qualification – denying Italy to place first in Group C.
The Swiss roar off their World Cup campaign against Cameroon next Thursday, before taking on Brazil and Serbia.
Though Ghana and Switzerland should be desirous of taking a decent result into the World Cup, both sides will be keen to preserve their energy before the campaign starts proper.
A draw seems like an ideal result; but the Ghanaian backline would have a lot on their plate.
BY JOHN VIGAH