Opening games at major international tournaments are always exciting and so will be Saturday’s encounter between hosts Ghana and Algeria at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations.
While the Black Queens will be looking to claim a convincing win to open their campaign in a bright fashion, the Fennecs are eyeing a famous upset at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Interestingly, the two teams have met in Algeria’s last two appearances at the Awcon.
The winning stats do not favour either side, as the North Africans beat the Black Queens 1-0 at Namibia 2014 after losing 2-1 in their tournament opener at South Africa 2010.
|Game||Ghana v Algeria|
|Date||Saturday, November 17|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In Ghana, the game will be televised live on GBC, SuperSport, Kwes Free Sports
|TV channel||Online stream|
|SuperSport 9 East||N/A|
|Kenya (local TV channel)||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Fafali Dumahisi, Patricia Mantey, Nana Ama Asantewaa|
|Defenders||Gladys Amfobea, Linda Eshun, Janet Egyir, Ellen Coleman, Cynthia Adobea, Faustina Ampah, Philicity Asuako|
|Midfielders||Asantewaa, Sumaila, Acheampong, Addo, Kusi, Essiful, Okyere, Boakye, Niber-Lawrence|
|Forwards||Samira Suleman, Jane Ayieyam|
Ghana coach Bashir Hayford has a very settled squad, with no change expected to be made to the side that beat South Africa 1-0 in a warm-up fixture on Sunday.
The backline is expected to be marshalled by Belarus-based centre-back Faustina Ampah. Serbia-based Priscilla Okyere and Julliet Acheampong are expected to form the spine of the midfield, but it will not be surprising should 17-year-old Grace Asantewaa replace the former.
Captain Elizabeth Addo is Ghana’s best player and she will be expected to show up particularly on days when the team needs a push. Again, she will be expected to be the main creative outlet and a source of goals.
Probable Ghana XI: Patricia Mantey, Gladys Amfobea, Linda Eshun, Faustina Ampah, Janet Egyir, Juliet Acheampong, Priscilla Okyere, Sherifatu Sumaila, Portia Boakye, Elizabeth Addo, Samira Suleman
|Goalkeepers||Kahina Takenint, Nadjet Fedoul|
|Defenders||Ouadah, Sadou, Sekouane, Bara, Belkhiter, Bensekrane, Yasmine Benlazar, Bekhedda, Beladgham|
|Midfielders||Belkacemi, Khelif, Chebel, Kendouci, Sidhoum|
|Forwards||Hemour, Marek, Merrouche, Boutaleb, Ramdani|
With Ghana expected to be on the front foot for the most part of Saturday’s game, Algeria coach Radia Fertoul is likely to parade a very defensive side.
For most Ghanaians, Saturday’s game is not a matter of if Ghana will win, but how many goals they will score.
But it is not totally out of The Fennec’s hands to spring an upset. That will be possible if they can capitalise on the incessant amount of pressure on the Black Queens.
Probable Algeria XI: Takenint, Ouadah, Sekouane, Benlazar, Belkhiter, Belkacemi, Sidhoum, Khelif, Chebel, Marek, Merrouche.
Ghana will look to win their first game to kick off their campaign in style. Striker Samira Suleman was not lost on what a first win will signify when she spoke to Goal .
“We want to win the game against Algeria to boost our morale for the next two group games because when you’re starting a tournament and you start with a win, it’s very important,” said, 27-year-old.
Ghana’s preparations were halted by their FA’s corruption scandal in June. That remains a concern to many.
Coach Hayford is also having to do without three players due to injury. Striker Princella Adubea, who won the goal-king title in Ghana’s last National Women’s League, has been on the sidelines for long after undergoing surgery. Sandra Owusu-Ansah and Priscilla Hagan were also forced out of the team due to injury after a recent tour of Kenya and South Africa.
Sunday’s 1-0 win over South Africa, however, is a timely confidence booster after a 1-1 draw with Kenya and 3-2 loss to Zambia in recent friendlies.
Algeria, on the other hand, have to do without veteran striker Naïma Bouhenni who was ruled out of the tournament due to an ankle injury.
The 33-year-old’s absence will be a big blow to The Fennecs as she also comes with experience, having played at three Awcons - 2006, 2010, 2014.
"The team will do their utmost to pass the first round. We are in a tough group but we will take our chances thoroughly,” coach Fertoul said, as reported by the BBC.
"I regret the absence of my best player in Naima Bouhani who got injured in our preparation match against in Morocco."
Algeria also come into the tournament on the back of recent poor performances, having lost 3-1 to Morocco and 2-1 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in friendlies.