Undefeated Angola should go into their quarter final with Ghana with confidence following recent performances.
The Angolan’s finished in top spot in Group A courtesy of a 4-4 draw with Mali, a 2-0 victory over Malawi and o-o draw with Algeria and can approach the match with realistic hopes of progression to the semi-finals for the first time ever.
Tournament top scorer and talisman Flavio has been passed fit to play for Angola but big doubts remain over winger Gilberto, who was injured during training. Despite this it is the Stadium in which the game is played which will have a main bearing on the match.
The Palancas Negras (Black Antelopes) will again play in the Estadio do Novembre 11 in Launda and the home crowd will expect quick and attacking football despite the obvious strengths of the star studded Ghanaian team.
If Coach Manuel Jose can continue to arrange his team into a powerful attacking force the crowd may provide the vital “extra man”.
The Ghanaian’s shall be missing Michael Essien, the most recent of a litany of players to miss-out but have been buoyed with the fitness of availability of Asamoah Gyan and Anthony Annan who should both start tomorrow. Ghana have not particularly impressed in the tournament so far only managing to qualify for the quarters after a 1-o win against Burkino Faso following a 3-1 defeat to the Ivory Coast (Group B became a 3 team group after Togo’s eventual elimination). However, they can view the quarter final as a fresh start to kick start their faltering campaign.
The Portuguese coach of Angola is confident of his team’s qualities but was realistic saying;
“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.”
Meanwhile Ghanaian star Asamoah seems to have little concerns over Angola’s home advantage citing;
“We played them before in a friendly and know much about them. It will definitely be a difficult match,”
“When we played against them in the friendly, 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.”
If Ghana can step up to the mark and handle the atmosphere then the game could be a blockbuster. If they continue their erratic form then the Black Antelopes may run over them with their slick movement and strong attacking presence.
Match prediction : Angola 4 Ghana 3 (wild optimism by the author after suffering Gabon’s last two games).