Sports News of Monday, 23 January 2017
Avram Grant maintains that the Black Stars will not take their foot off the accelerator and will approach next Wednesday’s group clash with a mindset to win.
Despite stating his displeasure at playing at Stade du Port-Gentil, due to the poor condition of the pitch, Grant said his charges were approaching the tournament with a mindset to win every game despite securing their place in the knockout stage.
“We want to win on Wednesday. We want to improve in every game we play,” said the Israeli coach who told the media yesterday that he would be at full strength on Wednesday and did not intend to rest his top stars.
“Some of our key players did not play a lot of games in the last six months due to injuries, so they need games to put them into their best shape possible.
“We want to qualify; we want to play on a good pitch. All the coaches are complaining about the pitch but I don’t want to complain again; we’ve got to deal with it.”
Despite his insistence he wants to win Wednesday’s game, the Ghana coach did not hide his dislike for the pitch at Stade du Port-Gentil.
And if Ghana avoids defeat against Egypt, the team will top group D and play their quarter-final match at the newly-built stadium in the port city.
“If the other pitch is better then I’ll prefer to move there because Ghana is a technical team and we like to pass the ball and play good football,” said Grant after guiding the Stars to a 1-0 win over Mali last Saturday.
The man who guided the Stars to the final of the 2015 tournament in Equatorial Guinea says he expects the Egyptians to come out strongly as they need to avoid a loss to book their place in the quarterfinals.
And after Hector Cuper’s side defeated Grant’s charges 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Alexandria two months ago, the Israeli says he will make a few tactical adjustments to his team to secure a 100 per cent record in the competition.
“Egypt is a very good team. We’ll change a few things tactically.
“We’ll stick to our philosophy. It will be hard, it will be tough but I love challenges,” assured Grant, who said he was highly motivated to win the tournament, having come close to winning Africa’s biggest football prize two years ago in Equatorial Guinea.
The Ghana coach has strongly applauded his team’s performance in the last two games, despite coming under criticism for putting up a fine first half performance but barely managing to survive after recess when their opponents turned the heat on them.
Last Saturday, the Stars completely dominated their Malian counterparts and took a deserving lead in the 21st minute after Asamoah scored a brilliant header after a two-man move by Wakaso Mubarak and Jordan Ayew, whose pinpoint cross was connected by the Stars captain who became Ghana’s all-time leading goal scorer at the Africa Nations Championship.