WHY IS IT WORTH FOLLOWING?
The game will be Ghana’s first game in 2016 and the first under Sports Minister Nii Lantey Vanderpuye. The Stars begin what happens to be a busy year when they combine both the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers. Ghana can seal qualification to the Cup of Nations in Gabon next year with a win in both games against the Os Mambas. Also in store is the return of Adam Larsen Kwarasey. His inclusion from the start is solely a technical decision. The Mozambicans will also be curious to see how their feature under new coach Abel Xavier for the first time.
HOW HAVE THEY FARED SO FAR IN THE GROUP?
Ghana have enjoyed a fine start to the group with two wins from two. The Black Stars walloped Mauritius 7-1 in Accra before sinking Rwanda 1-0 courtesy a late Mubarak Wakaso free-kick. On paper, it looks a straightforward qualification for Ghana but football has a funny way of springing surprises and the Stars will have to guard against complacency in the remaining four matches. Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan have scored two goals each so far in the campaign with Jeffrey Schlupp, David Accam and Christian Atsu all getting a goal.
Mozambique’s record is the direct opposite of Ghana’s. Two defeats in two and no goal scored. Their first came away to Mauritius before a home defeat against the Amavubi of Rwanda cost coach Joao Chisaano his job. A defeat could all but end the Mamba’s slim chances of qualifying for the Cup of Nations in 2017. Their last AFCON experience was in 2010. They currently lie bottom in the group.
“We have a very important Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mozambique in a two-legged qualifier.They are a very good team, so we want to be at our best. And then we look to the next Africa Cup of Nations. We haven’t finished the job yet! I believe when you come to a team, and you see progress, progress and progress, the results will come.Ghana is a country of football, there are very good people there and players with a lot of talent and I can see progress. Every game we are better, every game we improve in other aspects. People say we have a problem with mentality, and that’s not true. We have a very strong mentality. They take on the information very well. I’m enjoying Ghana very much.”
“We are going to fight in Ghana. “It would be a big mistake to believe that we do not stand a chance.“My players have the will to improve so we are ready for Ghana, I have ambitions and I am a realist. I know with the right attitude and the right people, things will happen naturally. “Ghana is a good team and we are coming here to give in our best, we believe in ourselves and we know we can get a result here. We want to make the country proud so we will give in our best tomorrow.People see us like a small team but we are here to play good football.
Ghana’s team under Avram Grant has usually picked itself with the only difference coming in the midfield partnership. Grant has chopped and changed Mubarak Wakaso’s partner according to the opponents and style of play. Agyeman Badu has got the nod ahead of Afriyie Acquah in all home matches so far and it will come as no surprise should he start today. However, a third name seems to be appearing after monitoring their training. Russian based Rabiu Mohammed could be the surprise inclusion. However, Badu remains favorite to start. In Asamoah Gyan’s absence, Majeed Warris will partner Jordan Ayew upfront. Frank Acheampong will deputize for the injured Andre Ayew. The key question however remains: Braimah or Kwarasey?
Ghana XI: Braimah/ Kwarasey; Afful,Rahman, Boye, Jona Mensah; Wakaso, Atsu,Acheampong, Badu; J.Ayew, Warris.
Abel Xavier is expected to continue with the 4-3-3 formation of the Mambas. The Mozambicans’ success is built around a solid defensive base with Mexes, who plays for Stade Rennes in France and Zainadine Junior who plays in China. Their major bane has been goalscoring. In 6 matches in the 2015 calendar, they managed only 6 goals failing to find the net in three games. They will however be relying on striker Elias Pelembe to find the net. The South African based striker has scored three goals in 28 appearances and scored the only goal when they beat Gabon 1-0 in Maputo.