Ghana-Guinea: Black Stars set for Syli National challenge

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Coach Maxwell Konadu faces a stern test in the quest to open the group stage of the regional competition on a winning note

There’s ever-mounting pressure on coach Maxwell Konadu as Ghana take on Guinea in the group stage of the Wafu Cup of Nations on Thursday.

Under his watch, the home-based Black Stars were denied a ticket to next year’s African Nations Championship after losing over two legs to Burkina Faso in the qualifying.

And on Saturday, it took a controversial injury-time penalty to ensure a 1-0 victory over a plucky Gambian side in the Wafu playoff opener.

His decision to bench linchpin Winful Cobbinah and subsequent post-match explanation has left him with only a few friends, while his second-half withdrawal of Wafa’s Gideon Waja also drew a lot of backlash.

“I wanted to try something new and I don't want some players to feel more special than others.,” the former Asante Kotoko trainer said on his decision to relegate Cobbinah.

But rather promptly, Konadu has been offered another chance to repair his damaging reputation when his charges face Guinea in the group stage at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.

Cobbinah is likely to regain his starting berth, playing alongside Waja, while Hearts of Oak’s Patrick Razak could also return to the matchday XI.

However, Wafa defender Musah Nuhu has been ruled out of the game, having failed to recover from an injury setback from the opening fixture.

Vincent Atingah, who replaced the Wafa centre-back after just eight minutes and went on to fetch the match winner, is expected to step up once again.

Guinean on the other hand, survived an early scare to register a 2-1 victory over rivals Guinea-Bissau in their playoff on Saturday.

Having recorded a staggering 10-1 aggregate win over the Djurtus in 2018 Chan qualifying, the Syli National were forced to dig deep this time around in Cape Coast.

“We are looking forward to the rest of the tournament, but are taking it one game at a time and [we will] give our best performances,” Guinea coach Hamidou Camara said.

“We will only get better from here on out. I was happy with my players’ performance against Guinea-Bissau.”

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Coach Camara will hope Sekou Ketia and Abdoulaye Camara, who scored the decisive goals in the opener, will be in their elements once again.

Sekou Amadou Camara and Mohamed Sorel Camara, who both did not feature in the first game, could be back to help the Syli National, having hit eight and two goals respectively to qualify the team for Chan 2018.

Fox Sports holds exclusive rights to the 2017 Wafu Cup of Nations