Posted On Friday, 28th June 2013
The Ghana FA has mounted a vigorous defence of its decision to play Japan in a friendly after the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Zambia in September insisting the game in the Asian country will have immense benefits for the Black Stars in the playoffs.
The GFA played down fears that the Black Stars would not enjoy the massive support of the fans in Kumasi if they play the match on Friday which is a working day.
The spokesman for the GFA says the match against the Asians will offer coach Kwesi Appiah the only chance to play a friendly before the final playoffs to qualify for the World Cup.
Ibrahim Sannie Daara added that the match will boost the Black Stars’ chances of being seeded for the draws for the World Cup playoffs.
Ghana arranged to play Zambia on Friday, 6th September 2013, before taking on the Japanese four days later in a friendly game on Tokyo which has raised some concerns in some quarters.
Critics of the friendly against Japan claim the Ghana FA is putting a bigger premium on the friendly as opposed to the World Cup qualifier against Zambia.
But that concern has been heavily disputed by the GFA insisting careful planning for the Zambia match will boost the Black Stars for the match against the Chipolopolo and also in the playoffs.
Sannie Daara said despite the match being played on a weekday, the Black Stars have always enjoyed massive support in Kumasi when it plays on Friday.
“We carefully plan these things months ahead and as you saw in this month’s qualifiers against Sudan and Lesotho we weighed all options before making a decision. We will not do anything to ruin our chances,” the GFA spokesman told GTV Sport.
“We have no concerns at all about playing Zambia on a Friday because our history of playing on Fridays in Kumasi shows that we will enjoy great support.
“We enjoyed massive support when we hosted Lesotho on a Friday and we beat them 7-0 with support for the team very high. We will not compromise on that.
“While we are planning for the match against Zambia we must also be thinking about the playoffs and how to be successful which is equally important.
“We must not wait until we qualify before we start planning for that.”
Ghana will secure a place for the final phase of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers if they manage at least a draw against the Chipolopolo in Kumasi.
The Japan friendly is the only match coach Kwesi Appiah can have to assess players before the playoffs which will be played in October and November.
With no FIFA international friendly dates before the playoffs, playing the Blue Samurai will offer the Black Stars coach the chance to further bond his players before the match.
“We must take advantage of the availability of a window for a friendly because the coach will not have another chance to play a friendly before the playoffs,” Sannie said.
“The date for the Japan friendly is the only available one so playing in that match will further boost the Black Stars in the playoffs.”
FIFA has revealed that it will use its monthly ranking to be released on 12 September 2013 to decide which countries will be seeded for the playoffs.
With the match against Japan coming just two days before FIFA makes its 12 September 2013 ranking public, Sannie Daara the desired result against Japan will boost Ghana’s chances of being seeded as they will avoid the toughest African sides in the playoffs.
“If we want to be seeded for the playoffs and avoid some of the toughest teams then we must also be planning for that too as well,” the GFA spokesman told the national television station.
“The Japan friendly gives us the perfect chance to get a result and boost our place on the ranking before the draws for the playoffs are made. This is all for the good of the team.
“The meticulous planning we put in before the matches for the Black Stars prove that we will not do anything to jeopardize our chances of qualifying. We took everything into consideration and all of these things will go into helping the team to qualify for the World Cup.”
The GFA has been praised for its planning for the team in June that saw them camping in Ethiopia which was initially criticised in certain quarters.
But the Black Stars took advantage of the altitude training in Addis Abbaba to beat Sudan and Lesotho away to go top of Group D despite Zambia having three free boardroom points from FIFA.
The winners of the African qualifying groups will be paired into five home-and-away ties in the playoff.
The playoffs will be played between 11-15 October and 15-19 November 2013.