Fireworks expected in this west African derby as both sides race to pick up the first available semi-final place in the 2013 Afcon
Paintsil, Vorsah, Boye, Afful
Adomah, Asamoah, Wakaso,
Varela, Nando, Gege, Nivaldo
Babanco, Platini, Varela, Soares
Ghana face off with Cape Verde in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final fixture that could either bring a disappointing conclusion to the former's title quest or a shattering anti-climax to the latter's fairytale cruise which began with elimination of mighty Cameroon during the qualifiers last year.
While the Blue Sharks have been overshadowing giants like Morocco and Angola to emerge second in Group A proved a surprise, the Black Stars quite expectedly topped their own pile and could have thought themselves justly rewarded with a date against the unfashionable Islanders - arguably the least fancied side of the lot - but only if they had been oblivious of their opponents' giant-killing reputation.
Cape Verde, courtesy of a string of fine results in recent competitive matches, could be considered as anything but easy prey, having come so far in their maiden campaign and claiming some significant scalps along the way, and that of the four-time African champions is one they certainly would love to add to their ever-expanding collection of souvenirs as they look to achieve more.
That would, however, be their toughest ask yet, and perhaps a challenge too far for the debutants to attempt. Nevertheless, this is African football, after all, where surreal events are difficult to foretell - such as Zambia conquering the continent in 2012 - happen on occasion and surely none could rightly begrudge the Blue Sharks the right to dare. The two west African nations have a history of only three previous meetings, two of which were played out in the form of World Cup qualifiers ahead of Germany 2006, and the remainder a pre-Afcon 2013 friendly in Portugal. Each time, Ghana triumphed, with an aggregate of seven goals scored and none conceded.
Neither side is expected to alter its composition, going into this game. Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes will be counting on the likes of Ryan Mendes, Heldon Ramos, Djaniny and skipper Nando Neves to provide much-needed inspiration while, for the Ghanaians, hardly any changes are foreseen with regards to the team that beat Niger handsomely in the last group game, bar the probable return from injury-cum-suspension of set-piece specialist Mubarak Wakaso.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Ghana (26) and Cape Verde (70) are separated by some 43 places on the current Fifa national team rankings.
Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes is actually employed most of the year as an air-traffic controller.
- Antunes also represented Cape Verde across three disciplines - football, basketball, and tennis - and is the sixth member of his immediate family to earn national caps in football, along with his father and all four brothers.
Manchester United's Luis Nani and Patrice Evra, France's Patrick Vieira, as well as Swedish legend Henrik Larsson have either full or part Cape Verdean parentage.
The population occupying the 10 islands comprising the Cape Verdean archipelago -estimated at a little over 500,000 - is several times less than the 4.5 million-plus that inhabit Ghana's capital, Accra.
- The Black Stars of Ghana have qualified for the last two World Cups, in 2010 and 2006.