With two places up for grabs in Group E of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, Ghana’s clash against the Central African Republic (CAR) is anticipated to be one with much excitement.
After five rounds of matches, Ghana lead the group with nine points with Angola following with a point less. Meanwhile, CAR are also third with seven points implying that all three teams could qualify if they record favourable results in their matches, leaving Madagascar as the only side with no chance of making it to the 2023 AFCON tournament set to be hosted by Ivory Coast next year.
Coaches from both sides have been waxing lyrical ahead of time expressing confidence to obtain their desired result to enable their respective teams to proceed.
Raoula Savoy is confident in his ability to lead the Wild Beasts on an almost impossible mission, finding comfort in the type of upheaval they had previously managed to inflict on other African giants like Nigeria.
“Nigeria never expected us to beat them at home but we did,” he told the media during Wednesday’s press conference ahead of the game.
“You never know [what we can do]. I have respect for Ghana because they are far better than us as a football nation but football is the most lovely game in the world because every time, every day you have surprises,” he added.
Hughton, on the other side, is optimistic that leveraging Ghana’s history at the Baba Yara Stadium, where they have not suffered a defeat in the previous 23 years, will help them achieve the desired outcomes.
“Everybody knows what this game [vs. CAR] means,” he told the media during Wednesday’s presser ahead of the game.
“We will do everything that we can to the result that we want to get. Preparation has been good. We are missing some players through injuries but it is also an opportunity for others.
“We are playing at home. We have a good record here and it is a record that we want to continue.”
The game kicks off at exactly 4 p.m. local time at the Baba Yara Stadium today.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE MATCHES)
Ghana have recorded a single defeat in their last five matches following their 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in their last match in the 2022 World Cup. They have also recorded two wins and two draws in the other matches including a 1-0 victory over Angola in the AFCON qualifiers.
17 June 2023 Madagascar 0-0 Ghana 2023 AFCON qualifiers
27 March 2023 Angola 1-1 Ghana 2023 AFCON qualifiers
23 March 2023 Ghana 1-0 Angola 2023 AFCON qualifiers
2 December 2022 Ghana 0–2 Uruguay 2022 World Cup Group H
28 November 2022 South Korea 2-3 Ghana 2022 World Cup Group H
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC’S FORM
Their last five competitive matches have all been in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers where they have won twice, lost twice and drawn once giving them seven points. Their wins were however over Madagascar, a side Ghana failed to beat in their last game.
17 June 2023 Central African Republic 1-2 Angola 2023 AFCON qualifiers
27 March 2023 Central African Republic 2-0 Madagascar 2023 AFCON qualifiers
23 March 2023 Madagascar 0-3 Central African Republic 2023 AFCON qualifiers
5 June 2022 Central African Republic 1-1 Ghana 2023 AFCON qualifiers
1 June 2022 Angola 2-1 Central African Republic 2023 AFCON qualifiers
HEAD TO HEAD
The only official encounter between the two teams was the reverse fixture of this match in the qualifiers for the 2023 AFCON, which ended 1-1 as Namnganda cancelled Mohammed Kudus’ 17th-minute goal.
Ghana will be without Genk winger Joseph Paintsil in addition to Partey, Amartey, Joseph Wollacott, Salisu and Sulemana who are all not fit enough to be part of the team due to injury. Andre Ayew, who is however part of the squad may look on from the bench due to his inactiveness for the past few months. Nuamah or Bukari is expected to be one of the wingers in the starting XI while it is likely Edmund Addo takes the spot of Partey to pair with Salis Abdul Samed in front of the back four.
(4-2-3-1): Ati Zigi; Seidu, Aidoo, Djiku, Rahman; Samed, Addo; J. Ayew, Kudus, Nuamah; Williams
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Some notable players in the Central African Republic squad include Geoffrey Lembet, Marco Yapende, and Louis Mafouta, who plays for Amiens. Mafouta has been in exceptional form and is currently the third-highest scorer in the qualifiers, trailing only behind Sadio Mane of Senegal and Victor Osimhen of Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the team will be missing the services of experienced midfielder Kondogbia, who has been sidelined due to an injury sustained while playing for Marseille since mid-August.
(4-3-2): Lembet; Ndobe, Yangao, Niamthe, Guinari; Youga, Toropite, Pirioua; Namnganda, Mafouta, Manzoki