The World Cup quarter-finalists will open their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations campaign against their Congolese foes in Port Elizabeth as they seek to end a 31-year trophy drought
Paintsil, Vorsah, Boye, Afful
Atsu, Wakaso, Asamoah
Mongongu, Mulemo, Mabiala, Kasusula
Mulumbu, Zola, Zakuani
LuaLua, Mbokani, Mputu
The Black Stars have a very good head-to-head record against the Leopards, having recorded eight wins in the 14 times both countries have locked horns. The Simbas have also won four with the remaining two ending in a draw.
Meetings between both countries have been far and few in terms of the Africa Cup of Nations, with the last encounter in February 1998 in Burkina Faso, where the likes of Tondelua aided the Congolese to pip the Ghanaians by a goal to nil, effectively ending their hopes of progressing from the group stage.
On paper Ghana look much stronger despite the introduction of so many debutants, but in the wily Frenchman Claude Le Roy, who has seen it all on the African continent, DR Congo have a tactical brain who can turn things around on any day.
The two last met in a 2006 World Cup qualifier where both games ended in draws and Le Roy knows the Ghana team too well having handled them to third position in the 2008 Afcon.
DR Congo’s strength lies in their attack where they have the deadly Dieumerci Mbokani of Belgian giants Anderlecht. Also, the team boasts of as many as seven players from former African champions TP Mazembe.
Conversely, Ghana are a very determined and resilient young side who have proven time and again that they can live up to expectation, especially when the going gets tough and they did just that by coming back from 2-0 down to beat Tunisia 4-2 in the final trial game before the tournament.
Ghana have suffered a few injuries during pre-tournament camping, but team doctors have assured all four affected players will gain full fitness by Sunday.
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West Brom’s midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, whose surname means Heart of a Leopard or Man Beast, retired prematurely from the DR Congo national team 16 months ago, but withdrew the decision late last year upon the intervention of President Joseph Kabila.
Coach Claude Le Roy resigned on the eve of the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa due to lack of commitment on the part of the Federation, but changed his mind after assurances from officials.
Asamoah Gyan is the only survivor of the Ghana Black Stars team which drew 1-1 with DR Congo in Kinshasa eight years ago.
It was Le Roy who invited Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah and defender Isaac Vorsah to the Black Stars.
- Ghana, whose coach Kwesi Appiah is going into this tournament for the first time as a head coach, have not lost in their last five games with DR Congo.