Sports News of Sunday, 1 February 2015
A fifth consecutive Africa Cup of Nations semi-final awaits Ghana if they are able to overcome Guinea at the Estadio de Malabo.
Ghana face Guinea in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with the teams having taken contrasting routes to the last eight.
Avram Grant’s Ghana ultimately came out top in Group C despite an opening reverse at the hands of Senegal.
Talismanic forward Asamoah Gyan scored the only goal in stoppage time to ignite their campaign and see off Algeria 1-0 before John Boye and Andre Ayew secured a similarly dramatic 2-1 comeback victory over South Africa to seal qualification on Tuesday.
Far removed from such heroics on the field, Guinea’s progress to the last eight was confirmed in the unusual surroundings of a Malabo hotel.
Michel Dussuyer’s side drew each of their Group D matches against Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Mali – an identical set of results to the latter nation, meaning lots had to be drawn.
Qualifying in such fashion left Dussuyer feeling understandable sympathy with Mali.
“Mali do not deserve to be eliminated in this way, just as we do not,” he told reporters.
“It is tough, because they also deserved to go through. They missed a penalty against us and then they go out on a drawing of lots. Luck was on our side. But if we have got to the quarter-finals it is because we deserved to somewhere.”
Dussuyer has defensive problems to contend with ahead of Sunday’s match, which has been moved to the Estadio de Malabo from Mongomo due to concerns over the original venue’s playing surface.
Captain Kamil Zayatte remains a major doubt due to a calf injury, while Florentin Pogba has returned to his club Saint-Etienne because of a thigh problem.
Forward Ibrahima Traore has taken the armband in Zayatte’s absence and is expected to start despite sustaining a knock in the Mali match.
Ghana will be able to call upon Daniel Amartey – the Copenhagen defender declared fit after departing before half-time with a muscular problem against South Africa.
Goalscorer Boye was Amartey’s replacement with Ghana 1-0 down at the time, leaving Grant with a pleasing selection dilemma.
Victory would secure a fifth consecutive AFCON semi-final spot for Ghana, although their experienced coach is keen to avoid complacency against an opponent he holds in high regard.
“I know Guinea, I saw their games and I must say they play very good football,” Grant told a pre-match press conference.
“They know how to play football and they have good players and they deserve to be here in the quarter-finals.
“They will be a very tough team to beat.”