Bouake will come alive today with the opening Group B match of the maiden edition of the African Nation Championship (CHAN), between Ghana and Zimbabwe.
For a town that has not seen such a competition for a long time, the game is expected to attract thousands of football fans in and outside Cote dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢IvoireÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second city for this much awaited clash.
Both teams will be seeking for a convincing win to announce their claim for the ultimate at the tournament designed exclusively for local based footballers.
Ghana, one of the punditsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ choice to reach the final boasts of one of the best teams at the tournament and only an outstanding result will see them live by that status.
The Ghanaian team dominated by seven players from champion club Asante Kotoko is highly favoured to beat the Zimbabweans, but they can only underrate the Southern Africans at their own peril.
For the four-time African champions, this match provides the right platform to avenge a painful 1-2 loss suffered at the hands of the Warriors during the Egypt 2006 African Cup of Nations that incidentally led to their exit from the tournament. It remains GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only loss in six outings against Zimbabwe.
With a quiet preparation in the build-up to the tournament, Ghana coach Milovan has tasked his players to go the extra mile at the championship, and Zimbabwe is likely to be their first target.
Rajevac has praised the attitude of his payers in during their week long camp in Sekondi and now says they must prove just how good they are on the field of play.
“The players know what is expected of them and they must show to all their worth. We will approach one game after the other and will treat all opponents equal.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Zimbabwean squad is dominated by players of Dynamos, last seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s CAF-MTN Champions League semi-finalists and if that performance is anything to go by, then fans should expected an action-packed clash.
The Warriors have no big names in their team but the likes of Philip Marufu, George Magariro and Gilbert Banda can produce magic on a good day to ensure victory.
In the other Group B match scheduled for the evening, Libya will face DR Congo in a clash that slightly tilts the way of the North Africans.
The Greens are seeking to use to CHAN to make-up for their inability to qualify to the next stage of the qualifying rounds for the 2010 World Cup/African Cup of Nation qualifiers, due to goal difference after a photo finish involving Ghana and Gabon.
The squad built around the Al-Ittihad team that reached the group phase of the Confederation Cup last season has played together for a very long time and this is the right platform to exhibit the results of their togetherness.
Only the top two teams will progress to the final of the competition that spans February 22 to March 8.