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Sports News of Wednesday, 25 January 2017


DR Congo or Morocco- choose this day your path to AFCON glory

DR Congo or Morocco?

Ghanaians have turned into mathematicians and calculators at every major tournament. Permutations have become a common norm with us.

“We have to win, and hope this team loses, we have to get a point here and we will qualify,” these terms have become part and parcel of us during tournaments. All these permutations are core mathematics and simple, straight forward calculations to qualify or not. These were guided by some binary operations of 1-0-1-0 as scorelines in their first two games.

But in 2017, the Stars have won two in a row and assured themselves of qualification but with this qualification comes a complex situation of having to play to choose their quarterfinal opponents. Both DR Congo and Morocco lie in wait for the Stars, hence requiring elective mathematics to “integrate” and “differentiate” between the two.

On the hindsight, the calculations seem simple. Avoid defeat against Egypt and face Morocco. Lose to Egypt and face DR Congo but the ramifications of this game goes beyond the quarter final

Should Ghana top the group and play Morocco, their potential semifinal clash will be against Burkina Faso or Tunisia while finishing second and playing DR Congo could potentially set up a semifinal clash against Cameroon or Senegal. It is a known fact that to be a champion you have to beat the best but Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph and Portugal’s EURO triumph in 2016 have established you need  a slice of fortune as well as a favorable draw to clinch the ultimate.

Ghana coach Avram Grant has done excellently well to give away little or nothing in terms of his true preference. In one context, the Israeli has strongly indicated he will appreciate the chance to leave Port-Gentil and that will only occur should we lose to the Egyptians. On the other hand, he strongly hinted of naming a strong side as he hopes to give his star players more game time to improve their fitness and maintain their 100% record. So which is which Avram?

Game Preview:

For the Egypt game itself, the Stars have attached so much importance to it after the 2-0 defeat in Alexandria two months ago. Avram Grant has 22 fit players to choose from as they seek to end the group phase as the only team in the tournament with a 100% record.

The Egyptians have been far from swashbuckling so far but they have managed to keep two clean sheets and four points which epitomizes their efficiency. The Pharaohs put up a similar efficient performance as they dispatched a blunt Black Stars in the World Cup qualifier.

However, the Stars have added grit to that performance in Alexandria as evidenced in their two second half performances against Uganda and Mali. In addition to this, Ghana has Asamoah Gyan who is a proven finisher and the missing piece when both sides clashed in Alexandria.

Revenge mission for both sides as Ghana look to avenge their 2-0 defeat in Alexandria while Egypt still await the chance to erase that 6-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of Ghana in 2013.

But in the general context for Ghana, it is more about which road to take en route to their AFCON glory.