AFTER six hours of hard work and dogged determination, Ghana know that now, only 90 minutes and one more victory separate the Black Stars from their first ANC (African Nations Cup) trophy in 28 years.
Having impressed at this year’s tournament with an injury ravaged side, Ghana have assembled an ambitious, young squad who have smashed-and-grabbed their way to the final. However, against Egypt, the Black Stars will have to play on an entirely new level if they’re to fly back to Accra with the trophy.
This tournament, Egypt have been the in-form team, maintaining a 100% winning record and scoring 14 goals, more than treble the amount Ghana have notched up. With these statistics in mind, the final will be an epic ‘David v Goliath’ match-up.
THE FINAL BECKONS: Egyptian players celebrate reaching their third successive ANC final.
The key to Ghana’s success will be the defence. The Black Stars have not conceded in three games and have demonstrated that they are capable of barricading themselves in their own half if it assures victory.
With the potent attacking threat of Mohammed Zidan, as well as free-scoring midfielders Mohammed Geddo and Ahmed Hassan, Egypt will be constantly banging at the door looking for goals. To eradicate chances, Eric Addo will have to lead the line with ruthless efficiency, directing Lee Addy and Samuel Inkoom to cut out threats quickly on the flanks. Isaac Vorsah will play the ‘free-role’ in central-defence again, a role which allowed him to be first to every danger against Nigeria.
CRUCIAL TOUCH: Isaac Vorsah cut-out Nigeria’s through balls expertly, a skill he will need to show against Egypt.
Algeria left the midfield open, allowing Egypt’s frontline to tear the isolated back four apart. The Black Stars will have to be compact and defensively minded, making sure to support their back line wherever possible if they are to avoid the same downfall. This numbs Ghana’s attacking threat, however with the speed of André Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah, the Black Stars are capable of counter-attacking in pace with numbers.
Upfront chances will be limited. Matthew Amoah may return to the starting eleven alongside Asamoah Gyan. Gyan has been clinical in attack and he will need to be decisive with his opportunities against the Pharaohs. An early goal would allow Ghana to settle into their ‘blockade’ mode, however against such a good attacking line, is keeping the Pharaohs out for long periods realistic?
EVERYTHING’S A-OK!: Asamoah Gyan has given the thumbs up for a Black Stars victory over Egypt.
The match should be fascinating viewing. Against the Ivory Coast, the Elephants proved too good as Ghana collapsed after conceding. Now though, the squad is brimming with self-belief and I expect no such repeat should the Black Stars find themselves trailing.
Egypt are an irresistible tour-de-force of attacking ability and they will almost certainly hit the back of the net during the game. For Ghana, the game will be damage limitation, they must try and hold out for as long as possible. Egypt may have 70% possession, but I believe it will go to penalties, and with no pride to lose, the Black Stars will beat the expectant Pharaohs in the shootout and take the trophy back to Accra.
PREDICTION: Ghana 1-1 Egypt (Ghana win 4-3 on penalties)