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Sports News of Tuesday, 20 November 2018


Black Queens to call Mali’s bluff

Mali’s coach, Saloum Mohamed Houssein, has warned Ghana to brace themselves up for a tough fight when the two sides clash this afternoon at the Accra Stadium in the second Group A game of the ongoing Total Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AFCON). Kick-off is at 3:30pm.

Mali’s ‘Les Aigles Femelles’ (Female Eagles) fired the warning to hammer home their intention to bounce back from their 1-2 loss to Cameroun in the opening group clash last Saturday. They took a first half lead but eventually succumbed to the Camerounians in the second half, a result that has pushed them to the point of desperation, as only a good result against Ghana’s Black Queens will revive their campaign.

At a press conference yesterday, the Mali coach indicated that his side had not given up hope despite the loss but would come all-out against Ghana for a good result to revive their dream.

“It is not over yet. We made some mistakes that cost us. Ghana will have a lot to contend with as we intend to go all out. We are capable of winning and will do everything within our strength to ensure that we get the result that we need,” Coach Houssein said.

Against Cameroun, the Malians showed their quality and held their own against Cameroun (runners-up of 2016 Women’s AFCON) and took the lead through Asissata Troare, but the Indomitable Lionesses scored two quick goals within a three-minute spell to expose a weakness in the Malian defence.

It is the defensive lapses in the Malian team that Ghana’s coach, Bashir Hayford, intends to exploit to his side’s advantage today.

At a press conference yesterday, the coach called the bluff of the Malians, saying the story would not be different from previous clashes between the two sides and that the Black Queens were determined to take all the three points at stake.

Last Saturday, Ghana made a winning start to their campaign with a 1-0 win against Algeria and occupy the second spot behind Cameroun on the Group A log, but Coach Hayford reckons they would have to improve upon both their goal-scoring abilities if they are to take the top spot on the log.

“My ladies were tensed in the opening game but I believe those butterflies are all gone and will come up a better side against Mali. We did not play badly just that we could not convert the chances we created. We know how important the goals will be for us, so against Mali, we will go all out,” Coach Hayford said.

The Malians are an improved side and play with more cohesion as they finished fourth in the inaugural West Africa Football Union (WAFU) tournament in Abidjan last February. In June the Malians edged out Cote d'Ivoire in the qualifying campaign for the Women’s AFCON.

The Black Queens first defeated the Malians 2-0 during the 2002 tournament in Warri, Nigeria. They crossed paths again two years ago when Ghana earned a 3-1 victory at the group stage of the 2016 tournament in Cameroun.

Linda Eshun, Samira Suleman and Elizabeth Addo gave Ghana a 3-0 lead before Agueissa Diarra converted a penalty late in the game.

The main architects of Ghana’s victory two years ago are expected to line up against the Malians this afternoon in search of a second straight victory to enhance their chances of advancing from the group into the semi-finals.

Cameroun and Algeria clash in the other group A match at the Accra stadium this evening. Kick-off is at 6:30PM.