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Sports News of Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Black Satellites seek winning start against Burkina Faso

The Coach of Black Satellites, Jimmy Cobblah, has described their opening Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations game against Burkina Faso on Sunday as a "must win" encounter which would enhance the team's chances of qualification beyond the group phase.

Coach Cobblah says he expects his charges to come out strongly in all aspects of the game to win against a potentially tough Burkinabe side and to make a strong case in Group B ahead of other difficult clashes against other West African rivals, Senegal and Mali.

In an interview with the Graphic Sports from the team's base in Niamey, the Satellites trainer explained that his players and technical handlers were focused on giving equal attention to every opponent in the group without underrating any of them.

"I'm expecting the boys to come out strongly in all aspects to win as we help them on the touchline. As you know, it is the first match of the tournament and a must-win game for us.

"I have been able to know them a bit but don’t forget every team in the group has to be taken seriously and we are focused on doing just that," he said.

The Satellites will be hoping to qualify out of the group into the semi-finals of the continental competition to guarantee an automatic ticket to the FIFA U-20 World Cup to be played in Poland in May.

Coach Cobblah said his players were in high spirits and noted that the understanding between them was crucial to their success at the tournament.

"It's going well as the understanding is growing, as well as the love for one another which goes with team spirit," a confident Coach Cobblah told the Graphic Sports.

The Satellites trainer has spent months putting his team in shape by engaging them in series of preparatory games with the most recent being a 0-2 to hosts Niger in a warm-up match in Niamey last Wednesday.

The team had previously lost 0-3 to Dreams FC and also suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Hearts of Oak in their build-up to the tournament.

Nonetheless, Coach Cobblah remains confident about making a mark at the tournament following the late arrival of his foreign-based stars, including his captain, Issahaku Konda; goalkeeper Manaf Nurudeen, who looks set to replace Danlad Ibrahim in post for their opener against Burkina Faso.

Other key players such as Muhammed Kudus, Emmanuel Toku, striker Daniel Lomotey and defender Najeeb Yakubu will bring a lot of quality to the Ghanaian side to get off to a winning start on Sunday.

Ghana will be hoping to improve on their third-place finish at the 2015 African championship after missing the 2017 tournament through suspension.

The Satellites will come up against a talented Burkina Faso side who are making only their second appearance at the tournament in 12 years since exiting at the group stage of the 2007 championship.