Ghana v Nigeria: The media view

Ghana and Nigeria last met at the 2008 Nations CupFierce west African rivals Ghana and Nigeria are preparing to face each

other in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, in one of the biggest games between the two in recent years.

Here, we ask our reporters in the two countries to gauge the contrasting moods in the Ghanaian and Nigerian press ahead of Thursday’s crunch tie.

Confidence in the Ghanaian media is sky high ahead of the Black Stars’ semi-final meeting with Nigeria on Thursday.

One of Africa’s most intense football rivalries will be played out at the Cup of Nations for the third straight tournament but this time with a bigger prize at stake: a place in the final.

Ghana are chasing their first title since 1982 and their first final since 1992 and the significance of the match has not been lost on the country’s media on Tuesday.

The biggest daily newspaper in Ghana, the Daily Graphic, summed it up expertly.

They called Thursday’s game a “sumptuous clash” against an “age-old rival” and suggested Nigeria will be up for revenge after losing the quarter-final to Ghana in 2008.

“Two years ago the Black Stars defeated the Super Eagles. This time Nigeria will be seeking revenge as they stand in the way of the Black Stars from reaching the final of the continent’s showpiece event,” the paper wrote.

That quarter-final meeting in Accra two years ago, which Ghana won through a late Junior Agogo goal, was a major talking point on the morning sports phone-in programme on Accra’s Asempa FM.

“I don’t remember one contributor or text message that didn’t say that Ghana will repeat the feat of two years ago,” the show’s presenter Moses Antwi told BBC Sport.

“No matter how many times I reminded them Ghana lost to Nigeria in the Nations Cup in 2002 and 2006, they simply wouldn’t listen. The confidence level is unbelievable.”

That confidence was also reflected on Metro TV where presenter Christopher Opoku said the semi-final will be a meeting between two sides who have defied the odds after being written off after their opening losses in Angola.

“I think Ghana has looked sounder tactically, but given that these games have never followed the form pattern, I think it will be a lot more difficult than most Ghanaians think,” he said.

Despite his caution, however, most of Opoku’s listeners remained optimistic, with 70 per cent of them declaring in a text poll that Ghana will win.

For a derby that exemplifies a rivalry between a bigger and smaller neighbour and becomes a grand stage where arguments about national superiority are played out, the result of that text poll is no surprise.

The Super Eagles are used to being on the receiving end of satirical headlines in the Nigerian media for their perceived lethargic performances and a semi-final place at the Nations Cup in Angola has not swung the mood here.

The fact that they just edged their quarter-final against Zambia on penalties has sparked a media frenzy ahead of the clash with their biggest rivals Ghana.

The Guardian Newspaper ran the headline “Enyeama shoots Eagles to semi-finals” on Tuesday after goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama saved Thomas Nyirenda’s effort and then scored the winning kick himself.

But the paper was disappointed overall with the performance of the team.

“Before coming to this competition, Super Eagles Coach Shaibu Amodu was mandated to get Nigeria to the semi-final or lose his job, but the manner the team achieved that mandate may not have satisfied his employers, and definitely not Nigerians, who watched helplessly as Zambia, the least rated team in the quarter-finals, tore the Eagles apart in the encounter.

“Such was the sorry nature of Nigeria’s game,” it continued, “that defender Onyekachi Apam had to resort to rough tackles to stop the rampaging Chipolopolo. And it was one of such tough moves that earned the former Enugu Rangers’ star a red card in the 106th minute of the encounter.”

Brila FM also provided little comfort for players and officials of the Super Eagles, despite their last four berth.

The all-sports radio station based in Lagos and Abuja dedicated their morning “fans’ assembly” segment to the quarter-final outcome and the upcoming semi-final.

The majority of fans calling in continued to cite unfit players, disjointed performances, coaching and tactical blunders and terrible team selections as the main problems affecting of the team.

Many predicted more gloom against Ghana, despite the Black Stars being ravaged by injury.

“The players were too casual against Zambia, they did not turn up for the party and to be honest the better side [Zambia] are on their way home,” said Brila FM presenter Osondu Ngwude.

“Against Ghana you wonder what magic Shaibu Amodu will come up with. Sadly the fans and media do not have enough confidence in his ability.”