This Friday October 10, we are heading north of Africa, to the Maghreb region, specificall yto Morocco: the land where the sun sets; the land of Djellaba and of course, the land of the exotic Berber dance.
In the city of Casablanca, Guinea would “host” Ghana in the third round qualifier for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Yes you heard me right, Guinea would “host” in Casablanca because that’s how far the deadly virus,
Ebola, has taken Guinea’s Syli Nationale and Ghana’s Black Stars. Considered unsafe by CAF for football, Guinea have had to adopt Casablanca as its home grounds for the qualifiers and has already played and beaten Togo there. Well, that was Togo. InGhana; Guinea would have to contend with a stronger customer, one ready to chart a new chapter after a chaotic last few months. Both teams, it seems, have their peculiar challenges in camp before kick off on the green grass. Should we acquaint ourselves with these challenges by infiltrating their camps? Yes we should!
In Guinea’s camp you would find returnee coach, Michel Dussuyer, taking his players through various drills. His calm demeanor belies his anxiety. Dussuyer, who is on a second stint, finds their AFCON qualification diminishing after a 2-0 loss to Uganda on match day 2. He would know that his work is cut out; beat Ghana and revive qualification hopes or lose and forget about the 2015 AFCON. Dussuyer’sjob hasn’t been made easier with injury to three of his big cards: Guy Michel Landel, Kevin Constant and Captain KamilZayatte. The absence of Constant, formerly of AC Milan and Zayatte of English side Sheffield Wednesday, could adversely disturb Dussuyer’s plans. He has called up three local players to fill in, but really,it’s more of quantitative, rather than qualitative replacements.
In Ghana’s camp, there is little worry by way of Injuries, but there’s a new man in charge, well not that new. Maxwell Konadu, who assisted “fired” coach, KwesiAppiah has been elevated to head coach on temporary basis and would be in charge for the double header against Guinea; the Casablanca clash and return leg on October 15, in Tamale. So, while the personnel remain the same, the man to call the team has changed. What kind of calls, in terms of formation and deployment of players, would Konadu make? Would his starting eleven vary significantly from that of his former boss? Would the team feed off the usual new manager bounce to deal with the Guinean threat? That’s the air of uncertainty surrounding the Black Stars in Konadu’s first assignment. A lot however would be clearer on match day when the two teams line up.
PROBABLE LINE UPS
When the two teams emerge from the tunnel, Guinea would most likely have in goal NabbyYattara, a bench warmer for French second division side,Arles-Avignon. In the absence of captain Zayatte, who has over 40 caps, Yattara would be protected by a relatively inexperienced backline of Fode Camara from local side Horoya AC,Toulouse left back Issiaga Sylla, Abdoulaye Cissé of Angers, France and Belgium based DjibrilTamsirPaye. This backline is largely inactive and could come unstuck against Ghana’s sharp attack. In midfield, young Naby Keita, 19 years, will play box to box while the lanky BoubacarFofona of Portugal’s Sporting Madeira, would sit and destruct play.
On Guinea’s wings will be players who can do damage; Borussia Mönchengladbach’s IbrahimaTroare will operate from the left, while Ibrahima Conte of Anderlecht will hug the lines from the right. Both Ibrahimas are blessed with pace and trickery and with Ghana’s full backs’ propensity for joining the attack, Guinea will find a lot of Joy on the wings. In a two pronged attack, Guinea will field SeydoubaSoumah from Slovan Bratislava, Slovakia and IdrissaSylla of Belgium side, ZulteWaregem. These two, have been the outlet for Guinea’s goals and Idrissa especially, would have to be tracked, as he is quiet good at evading markers and sneaking in on goal.
All eyes will be on Maxwell Konadu’s first team sheet, but really it shouldn’t take any hard guesses to predict that Stephen Adams will continue in goal after debuting versus Togo. Harrison Afful will be at right back and Augsburg’s Baba Rahman will be deployed at left back. The central defensive pair of Jonathan Mensah and Awal Mohammed will continue from the Togo game as well. In front of the defense will be Rabiu Mohammed and Kwadwo Asamoah with Christian Atsu and DedeAyew on the wings while Jordan Ayew leads the attack and supported closely by Captain Asamoah Gyan.
Both teams have lopsided teams; crafty players upfront but shaky backline. It would thus be no surprise if this game turns out to be a high scoring one. It could end in a 3-2 victory for Ghana as the Black Stars are a shade ahead in quality. If that happens, in Konadu’s eyes, Morroco, wouldn’t be the land where the sun sets; it would be one, where it rises.