The Black Stars of Ghana would be back in action later today when they take on The Eagles of Mali on the verge of a defensive crisis.
Ghana could qualify with a win against the Malians, but risk unravelling after star left back Baba Rahman was ruled out of the tournament with an injury in the first game and with no like for like replacement in the side.
The Black Stars laboured to a 1-0 win over Uganda in the opening game of the tournament but despite the uninspired nature of the game, are on the verge of qualifying if they can keep it together and pick up a win here.
The loss of Schalke’s Rahman, a key part of Ghana’s offense, could be instrumental in derailing this team’s ambitions on the trophy. There is no like-for-like replacement in the squad, speaking to a disturbing lack of foresight from the technical team. Frank Achaempong deputised in the first game but he is essentially a winger who could be found wanting by better attacks than Uganda’s, and whilst Harrison Afful could shuffle over there, that would cripple Ghana’s right flank as well.
Mali drew goalless with Egypt in their first game, but the Star’s themselves failed to score from open play, only winning via a penalty. The midfield was too hit and miss and the two forwards (Gyan and Jordan) were atrocious, more interested in showing off than actually striking.
Avram Grant has to breathe more urgency into the approach play of his side, with the wingers especially being more clinical in their final passes. One of Gyan or Jordan should be benched to introduce more width.
A win tonight makes Ghana the second team to qualify for the quarter finals and makes our final game against Egypt easier to navigate. Game kicks off at 1600 GMT.