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Soccer News of Thursday, 7 February 2008

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Ghana v Cameroon; Ivory Coast Egypt

Ghana v Cameroon
Cup of Nations, semi-final
Date: Thursday 7 February
Kick-off: 1700 GMT, 12ET
Venue: Ohene Djan Sports Stadium, Accra

Ivory Coast v Egypt
Cup of Nations, semi-final
Date: Thursday 7 February
Kick-off: 2030 GMT
Venue: Kumasi Sports Stadium
Coverage: click here
Accra Mail --Today's Ghana 2008 encounter by all standards would be an epic one.

Two European African veteran coaches, Claude Le Roy and Otto Pfister of Ghana and Cameroon respectively, would be sweating it out at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra to determine which side will go to the finals of the nations cup tournament on Sunday February 10 2008.

Ghana is in the grips of "soccermania" and if patriotism can win sporting trophies, then there is no doubt whatsoever about the outcome today. The two teams, Black Stars of Ghana and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon both started the tournament in jerky fashion but as the games progressed, they developed in confidence and either side stands on the verge of making history today.

Even though today's match has not been billed by the pundits to be one of the giant clashes, it is expected to be one of the suspense and anxiety filled matches ever witnessed by Ghanaians due to its "do and die" nature.

The two teams have some interesting things to share in common. Ghana has won the nations cup on four occasions -1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982, while Cameroon won the tournament in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2002.

On the side of the coaches, the football terrain in Ghana is no stranger to coach Otto Pfister, having managed the Black Stars in the 1990's. During his Ghana days, it was the Abedi Peles and Tony Yeboahs Mr. Pfister handled; they are out of the system. The Black Stars he is confronting today are new maestros with their brand of insouciance and skills. This is not to downplay Otto Pfister's knowledge of the Ghanaian terrain. The old adage says, "a new broom sweeps better, but an old broom knows all the corners"! Could Mr. Pfister therefore have an idea of where to find Ghana's Achilles heels?
For Ghana's own Le Roy, the story is not too different from his Cameroonian colleague. One advantage he has over his Cameroonian counterpart is that he is a little bit familiar with the current crop of the Indomitable Lions. He was in charge of the team in the late 80s and late 90's respectively where key players like Samuel Eto'o, Rigobert Song and Joseph-Désiré Job featured for Cameroon.
Since the Ghana 2008 tournament begun, Ghana has played four matches and won all, as compared to the Cameroonian side which has won three out of the four matches played. Cameroon has a not-too-impressive defending record in this tournament after conceding seven goals so far in the tournament but the Black Stars must be prepared physically if they are to take advantage of the defensive frailties.
The Indomitable Lions have been ruthless by using physical power and crunching tackles to muscle their way through to this stage of the competition. Cameroon's physical approach was once again on display when they eliminated Tunisia on Monday 3-2 after extra time.
Player to player, both teams match equally, but the Lions have a porous defense which the Black Stars can utilize to their advantage.
With the availability of world class players in both teams, a crunching encounter is expected to unfold today. For their coaches, though they may not admit it, but it is also a competition between a Frenchman and a German!