The Black Stars, who topped Group D ahead of the likes of Mali, take on the Carthage Eagles in the last quarter-final of the continental tournament in Franceville
Paintsil, Mensah, Vorsah, Alhassan
Inkoom, Badu, Annan, Ayew
Ifa, Haggui, Abdennour, Chammam
Traoui, Ragued, Saihi
As expected, Ghana topped Group D ahead of Mali, Guinea, and Botswana to advance to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) second round with a total of seven points. The west Africans have done so while showing great defensive organisation, only conceding somewhat of a fluke goal against the Syli Nationale.
Goran Stevanovic’s men have their eyes firmly set on the title and have to go through Tunisia to get one step closer to it. Though history favours the Ghanaians in this match, the Black Stars will be wary of a Carthage Eagles team that caused co-hosts Gabon many problems on their way to a 1-0 loss. Players from the Black Stars camp all seem to agree that the north Africans have a tough unit and that the match will be difficult.
On the injury front, Andre Ayew is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder but has stressed that it won’t keep him out of Sunday’s game. Given the Marseille winger’s high pain threshold, evidenced by him staying on after sustaining the injury against Guinea, one imagines he’ll be ready. Meanwhile, the Ghanaian camp have been hit by the sad news of Anthony Annan’s mother passing away on Thursday.
On the other hand, Tunisia come into this game knowing that it will be their most challenging yet. Sami Trabelsi’s players haven’t played to their full potential and will have to put in their best performance of the competition to trouble one of the trophy favourites.
Just as he did against Gabon, the coach is expected to make a variety of changes, mixing elements from the similar starting lineups of the first two games and the heavily modified selection that contested the last encounter. Jamel Saihi and Hocine Ragued will likely keep their spots in midfield but Wissem Ben Yahia may be seated in favour of Majdi Traoui.
In terms of squad news, Tunisia’s top player thus far, Youssef Msakni, is said to be fully recovered from an ankle injury while Anis Boussaidi pulled out of practice on Friday with pain in his adductor. Furthermore, the Carthage Eagles have been without veteran midfielder Adel Chadli who abandoned the team after falling out with coach Trabelsi over a lack of playing time.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Tunisia and Ghana have both put in requests to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to wear black armbands for this match. The Carthage Eagles are doing so to show solidarity with Egypt while the Black Stars want to offer moral support to Annan, who lost his mother this week.
- Tunisia have never beaten Ghana at the Afcon
- In 13 matches between the two teams, the north Africans have won four, the Ghanaians have won seven, and the rest have been draws.
- The biggest Black Stars victory over the Carthage Eagles dates back to 1980 when they won 4-1 in Accra. Tunisia’s best result is a 2-0 friendly win in 2006 at Rades Stadium.
- A minute of silence will be observed before this game and every other one until the conclusion of the 2012 Afcon as a sign of respect for the 74 people that died during the Port Said tragedy in Egypt.