After going down 0-2 to arch rivals Nigeria in their last Group match on Monday, Black Stars B Coach, Maxwell Konadu, and his charges have another opportunity to return to winning ways when they lock horns with Niger this evening in the semi-finals of the WAFU Cup of Nations at the Cape Coast Stadium with a ticket to the final up for grabs.
As the host team, the Black Stars B were among the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and their fine run ahead of last Monday’s 0-2 upset by Nigeira further strengthened the team’s status as they head into today’s clash with the Nigeriens.
Following the Star’s failure to qualify for next year’s CHAN, the WAFU tournament provided an opportunity to redeem their image. But Ghana’s poor start against the Gambia was the red flag that got Konadu and his charges to sit up and improve upon their performance.
Now they face the Menas of Niger who slowly warmed themselves into the competition and posted some shocking results such as their 2-1 victory over Senegal in their opening group match and a 0-0 draw with the highly rated Elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire to book a date with Ghana.
Notwithstanding criticisms of the team’s performance, Coach Konadu has assured Ghanaians that he will qualify his side to Sunday’s final and win the ultimate title and the $100,000 winner’s prize.
“It is very unfortunate that we lost our last Group match against Nigeria . I have congratulated them because they played better than us. However, some of my players were nursing some injuries, but with Niger, it will be a different story, a confident Konadu said last Monday.
“ I believe in myself and I know what we are capable of doing. I accept the criticisms of the fans, but let them take heart that we will beat Niger to qualify to the final and win the trophy at stake,“ he added.
Apart from a few injury worries over the availability of captain Isaac Twum and midfielder Gideon Waja, the Ghana side have strength in depth and are likely to have midfielder Thomas Abbey fit to start today alongside Stephen Sarfo, Winful Cobbinah and Felix Addo in attack.
Despite the confidence exuded by Coach Konadu, the Menas have proven they have the mental strength to stand up to the favourites, and on the strength of their performances against Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, both initially considered pre-tournament favourites, Ghana cannot afford to underrate their opponents.
Ghana and Niger have met in 11 previous matches, according to FIFA statistics. Ghana boast an unbeaten record (10 wins, one draw) and have outscored their opponents 38 goals to four in the process.
Ghana v Niger