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Angola – Ghana Preview: Quarterfinals African Cup of Nations

January 23, 2010

Manucho

Angola's Manucho can be instrumental (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The African Cup of Nations enters the quarterfinal stage tomorrow. Host nation Angola and host of the last edition(CAN2008) Ghana will lock horns in the first match of the day. Angola qualified as winner of Group A with 5 points from 3 games. Their counterparts, Ghana qualified as runners of Group B. They secured 3 points from 2 games.

The two met in an international friendly in preparation for the African Cup of Nations on 18th November last year. The match ended in a goalless draw. In the second half of that game, the Palancras Negras piled pressure on the Stars but they managed an escape, thanks to young goalkeeper Daniel Agyei.

Angola
Angola will go into this game as slight favorites considering their home advantage. Trust the supporters to turn out in their numbers to make sure their team reaches the semifinals for the first time in the history of the competition. Coach Manuel Jose is likely to bring a squad similar to the one we saw against Algeria. Their top goal scorer so far Flavio, who was out with a hamstring in that game is likely to make a return. This will be good news for the team considering how they played without him in Algeria’s match.

The danger-men for Angola are wingers Gilberto and Mabina. They have pace and constantly supply deadly crosses into the area of the opposition. Watch out for Manucho who will be out harassing the defenders and acting as a distraction for Flavio and Djalma.

Angola v Malawi

Angola defender Zuela (Photo credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)


Ghana
The Stars will draw inspiration from their last game against Burkina Faso where they won by a lone goal, courtesy Andre Ayew. Despite the win, the Stars are likely to struggle without their talismans, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah and John Mensah. The injury-plagued squad however has good news in camp ahead of this game. Midfielder Anthony Annan and striker Asamoah Gyan have been declared fit to play and they could be influential for the ‘young’ Stars.

The Ghana midfield is yet to gel. Man-of-the-match Andre Ayew can do well if he stays on the left flank. The introduction of Dramani in the last match did not work the expected magic. There’s also the threat of Ghana’s latest midfield prodigy, Kwadwo Asamoah. He seems to be the set piece specialist in the team. He is a fine midfielder by every standard, however in this competition, he is yet to convince me that he can distribute the ball as well asEssien does.

Black Stars

Black Stars in one of their training sessions(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Darko Bandic)


Reactions so far

“We are ready for any team at the quarter-final. Anything can happen.”
“We can reach the semi-final, but we can also be knocked out or we can even go all the way and win the title.” – Angola coach Manuel Jose

“We played them before in a friendly and know much about them,”
“It will definitely be difficult.
“When we played against them in that game, it was the same atmosphere.
“It had no effect on our play and so will it be this time.
“In football, supporters don’t count. It is the pitch that determines the winner.” – Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah

“We played them in a friendly two months ago, so we know them well.” – Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac

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