Sports News of Friday, 12 April 2019
Ahead of today’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations draw, GHANASoccernet.com assesses the best and worst cast scenario for the Black Stars of Ghana.
The best draw
The Black Stars will learn their tournament group stage fate today, as the first ever six groups are drawn in Egypt.
Kwesi Appiah’s men will be confident of advancing to the next round round of the competition, but will first have to avoid some ‘big’ countries in the group stage when the draw is done in Sphinx, Egypt.
The four-time tournament champions have been seeded into pot 2 alongside Mali, DR Congo, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Guinea ahead of the draw.
This means the Black Stars will not face any of these countries in the group stage of the competition.
Ghana will draw one country from first, third and fourth pot respectively.
Pot 1 contains host nation Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Senegal.
Aside Ghana’s West Africa counterparts and host country Egypt, it would be 50-50 affair should the Black Stars face either Cameroon or Tunisia in the group stage.
Why exclude Egypt and other West Africa countries;
Reason being simple. No reasonable coach would want to face their sworn adversaries or host nation in the group stage of any competition.
Bar Egypt and Nigeria, Senegal will be one of the stern opponents to face at this year’s tournament as they are one of the pre-tournament favourites.
The Teranga Lions are unbeaten in their last six games, and they are first in the FIFA ranking. The team are definitely going to be a huge test for the three-time African Champions, so it is better to avoid them at such early stage.
On the other hand, Cameroon and Tunisia could be less fierce encounters compared to the strength of the Black Stars.
Despite amassing 15 points from 6 matches to top Group J during the qualifiers, the Carthage Eagles are in rebuilding process likewise defending champions Cameroon.
Countries to avoid;
Pot 3: Guinea Bissau
The third pot contains Uganda, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Angola and Burundi.
Guinea Bissau qualified for the AFCON tournament as group winners with 9 points and lost once throughout the qualifying series.
The Black Stars should pray to avoid the team from western part of the continent.
Pot 4: Kenya
This is the last seed and it consists of Mauritania, Namibia, Benin, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar.
There is no team capable of causing havoc to Kwesi Appiah’s men on paper, however, the West African side should not underrate the power of underdogs.
Kenya could be one of the toughest opponents the Stars would like to face in the group stage after toiling to overcome them during the qualifying campaign.