2012 AFCON Qualifying Preview: Ghana – Congo

Coach Goran Stevanovic goes into his first competitive game with the Black Stars as the Red Devils come at full force to impress at home...
Kick-off: Sunday, March 27, 2011. 15.30
Alphonse Massamba Debat Stadium, Brazzaville

Mock Examination Over For Goran Stevanovic

After mauling neighbouring Togo 4-1 in an international friendly in his first outing with the Black Stars, new coach Goran Stevanovic takes his first major test in a competitive game against Congo on Sunday.

Although the west Africans are on top of Group I, they need all three points to widen their lead against Sudan who are joint-top but with an inferior goal difference. Goran and his charges are aware of the task ahead and have been held up in a five-day pre-tournament camp in Kenya.

The 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists have no option but to grab the spoils in Brazzaville as the odds favour Sudan in the other group match on home soil against Swaziland. A win against the Diables Rouges [Red Devils] would brighten Ghana’s chances of booking a spot at 2012 Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

There are no major worries in the Black Stars camp at the moment. All the key players with the exception of AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who pulled out in the last minute as a result of an ankle injury, have honoured the invitation.

All Eyes On Captain Christopher Samba

Congo are a team under construction hence a lot of young players with few experience faces. Captain Christopher Samba of Blackburn Rovers would have a lot on his shoulders as they meet the ever popular Black Stars. They are just a point adrift the west Africans and a little effort from his troops coupled with the home support could do the trick for them.

Coach Camille Ngakosso would also rely heavily on striker Ibara Franchel, the 2007 CAF Young Player of the Year award winner and Switzerland-based Matt Moussilou to frustrate the current Africa best team at the Alphonse Massamba Debat Stadium.

The worse they can think of is to manage a draw against the four-time African champions else their chances of making it to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012 would be derailed. The last time the Red Devils appeared at the Nations Cup finals was in 2000, while their only success in the competition was in 1972 when they beat Mali 3-2 in the final.

TEAM NEWS

Ghana

Sunderland midfielder Sulley Muntari has given the squad a major boost having gained full fitness to feature for Ghana. The 26-year-old had a knock in a league game and was a major doubt but he announced to SuperSport.com that he has received the all-clear to be on the Ghana bench.

Probable starting IX: Richard Kingston, John Paintsil,  Addy, Isaac Vorsah, John Mensah, Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah, Anthony Annan, Dominic Adiyiah, Prince Tagoe.

Congo

There are no reported cases of injury in the Congo camp.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Barel Mouko (Lille, France), Chancel Massa (AC Leopards) Defenders: Bruce Abdoulaye (Clermont, D2 France), Papou Makita (Al-Ahly Tripoli, Libya), Francis Nganga (FC Tours, France), Igor Nganga (FC Schaffhausen, Switzerland), Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers, England)

Midfielders: Boukama Kaya (AC Leopards), Rolf Guie Mien (Paderborn, Germany), David Louhoungou (Boulogne, France), Mfountou Madila (Coton Sport Garoua, Cameroon), Delvin Ndinga (Auxerre, France), Burnel Okana (Stal Alchevsk, Ukraine), Prince Oniangue (FC Tours, France)

Attackers: Franchel Ibara (Vita Club, DR Congo), Ulrich Kapolongo (Al-Shabab, Jordan), Matt Moussilou (Lausanne Sport, Switzerland), Fabrice Ondama (Wydad Casablanca, Morocco), Francky Sembolo (Holstein Kiel, Germany), Nkolo Loris (Diables Noirs)

PREDICTION

The odds favour the Ghanaians in terms of performance and character. Their influence on the continent could cow the Congolese but upsets in modern football cannot be ruled out in this game.

Ghana 2-1 Congo