Ghana are seeking to bounce back from their poor World Cup performance in Qatar last year as they face the Palancas Negras of Angola on Thursday in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at the Baba Yara stadium.
While new Black Stars coach Chris Hughton will oversee a match for the first time, it will also be the first Black Stars’ game in Kumasi after they drew 0-0 with Nigeria, a result that helped in securing qualification for the World Cup.
The former Newcastle manager says a victory will be very important to start with.
“For me personally it will be a wonderful thing and of course hugely important to get the win but more importantly for the team. To win this game at home is hugely important,” said Hughton ahead of the game.
Angola, on the other hand, have envisioned announcing a comeback in the AFCON having bowed out in the group stage of the 2019 edition. They have done just fine in their first two qualifiers recording a win and a draw over Central African Republic and Madagascar respectively.
Head coach Pedro Goncalves is aware of the toughness of the fixture and has vowed to upset the four-time African champions.
“We are going to face a powerful team in Africa but in our mind, we want to grow, play and challenge ourselves with the big teams.
“This is our mind as we face the Black Stars. Watch out for us, believe that we will face one-on-one and beat the Black Stars,” he said.
Both teams are tied on points with four each which makes the fixture a crucial one.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE MATCHES)
Ghana’s two World Cup losses are their only defeats in the last five games. However, two of their last three wins came in friendly matches against Nicaragua and Switzerland. Angola have also won three, lost one and drawn the other in their last five games.
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
24 November 2022 Portugal 3-2 Ghana 2022 World Cup Group H
17 November 2022 Ghana 2–0 Switzerland Friendly
27 September 2022 Nicaragua 0–1 Ghana Friendly
20 November South Africa 1–1 Angola Friendly
17 November Angola 1–0 Botswana Friendly
10 July 2022 Botswana 1–0 Angola COSAFA Cup
7 July 2022 Angola 3–0 Seychelles COSAFA Cup
5 July2022 Angola 3–1 Comoros COSAFA Cup
HEAD TO HEAD
Both teams have met thrice in International friendlies and thrice in AFCON competitions. Ghana have the advantage in terms of head-to-head with three wins and two draws with a single defeat which they suffered 26 years ago. In their last meeting, Angola who were the hosts of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations lost 1-0 to the Black Stars in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
11 Nov 1982 Angola 1-2 Ghana International Friendly
06 Oct 1996 Ghana 2-1 Angola Africa Cup of Nations
22 Jun 1997 Angola 1-0 Ghana Africa Cup of Nations
28 Apr 2004 Ghana 1-1 Angola International Friendly
18 Nov 2009 Angola 0-0 Ghana International Friendly
24 Jan 2010 Angola 0-1 Ghana Africa Cup of Nations
Chris Hughton has a fully fit squad with the exception of Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu who is being managed carefully by the 64-year-old following recent injury woes. With Wollacott back in the squad, he is likely to man the post again at the expense of the team’s World Cup number one Lawrence Ati Zigi.
Goncalves have no major concerns with his squad ahead of the tie and is set to name a strong line-up for the encounter
GHANA’S PREDICTED LINEUP
(4-2-3-1): Wollacott; Denis Odoi, Amartey, Djiku, Mensah; Partey, Samed; Kudus, Paintsil, J Ayew; Williams
ANGOLA’S PREDICTED LINEUP
(4-3-3): Marques; Buatu, Gaspar, Ndefe, Afonso; Fredy, Show, Luz; Dala, Costa, N’zola