Having forged a reputation as one of Africa's finest sides, with four Afcon titles secured as well as making three Fifa World Cup appearances, Ghana are now global icons and can't afford to fumble in Addis Ababa against Ethiopia in the crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group F qualifier this weekend.
In the past, one would have concluded that the Black Stars, who are seeking an eighth successive qualification to the tournament, would rip the Walias to shreds, based on the Ghanaians' pedigree. However, times have changed and the scripts keep changing. Ethiopia are no more pushovers. They will surely put up a fight in front of their home fans to earn respect even if they eventually fail to qualify.
After two games, Kwesi Appiah's men trail Ethiopia, who have played one game more and sit one place above Ghana in the group.
In his second coming, Appiah has assembled a youthful squad which is gradually shaping into one of the most exciting groups but what they lack currently is a cutting edge upfront. Ghana, who took Ethiopia to the sword in the first leg by thrashing them 5-0 in Kumasi, have since failed in their attempts to maintain such performance in the campaign.
The Black Stars have picked only one victory in their last five games, conceding four goals. Raphael Dwamena and Ebenezer Ofori, who both scored against Ethiopia, did not make the current roster. Also, in-form Inter Milan star Kwadwo Asamoah has been dropped from the squad after picking an ankle injury, limiting creativity resourses in midfield.
However, striker Asamoah Gyan and centre-back John Boye, who were also on the scoresheet against the Walias are available for selection, amid fitness concerns though. The duo remain an integral part of Appiah's setup and it would be huge disappointment if they fail to glitter.
Moreover, the return of the Ayew brothers - Andre and Jordan - after a year away from international football, would provide more attacking options for Appiah, who has visibly calmed fears of alleged tensions with the pair. Appiah must throw caution to the wind by deploying an attacking-minded game plan in order to get everything back on an even keel at the Addis Ababa Sports Stadium before the final qualifying game against Kenya at home.
Gyan, in particular, has a lot on his shoulders in this fixture. The Ghana's all-time topscorer, who is struggling with a poor run of form this term, needs to grab this opportunity to prove that he still matters.
Furthermore, the Black Stars should guide against complacency as echoed by former Ghana captain Kwasi Owusu in an interview with Goal.
"Since Sierra Leone are not part of the qualifiers anymore due to the ban from Fifa, the Black Stars must avoid complacency because even a draw in Addis Ababa will end our dreams of making the Afcon finals. The players should not think that they can easily win or repeat the 5-0 defeat they recorded against Ethiopia in the first leg in front of their home fans," he said.
For Ethiopia, this game comes at the right time to stage revenge against Ghana being the final outing of the Walias in the qualifiers.
Coach Abraham Mebratu's charges would wish to send the nation delirious on Sunday with any form of win against the Black Stars.
A draw would be highly unfavorable to either side. The Black Stars must exploit every goal opportunity and remain resolute in defence until the final whistle.