Ghana – Cape Verde Preview: Black Stars and Blue Sharks set to battle for semi-finals first slot
Fireworks expected in this west Africa derby as both sides race to pick the first semi-final place in the 2013 Afcon.
Ghana face off with Cape Verde in a 2013 Afcon quarter-finals fixture that could either bring a disappointing conclusion to the former’s title quest or a shattering anti-climax to the latter’s fairytale cruise that began with elimination of mighty Cameroon during the qualifiers last year.
While the Blue Sharks trumping giants like Morocco and Angola to emerge second in Group A proved a surprise, the Black Stars quite expectedly topped their own pile and could have thought themselves justly rewarded with a date against the unfashionable Islanders – arguably the least fancied side of the lot – but only if they had been oblivious of their opponents’ giant-killing reputation.
Cape Verde, courtesy a string of fine results in recent competitive matches, could be considered as anything but easy prey, having come so far in their maiden campaign and claiming some significant scalps along the way, and that of the four-time African champions is one they certainly would love to add to their ever-expanding collection of souvenirs as they look to achieve some more.
That would, however, be their toughest ask yet, and perhaps one challenge too much for the debutants to attempt. Nevertheless, this is African football, after all, where surreal events difficult to foretell – like Zambia conquering the continent in 2012 – happen on occasion and surely none could rightly begrudge the Blue Sharks the right to dare. The two west African nations have a history of only three previous meetings, two of which were played out in the form of World Cup qualifiers ahead of Germany 2006, and the remainder a pre-Afcon 2013 friendly in Portugal. Each time, Ghana triumphed, with an aggregate of seven goals scored and none conceded.
Neither side is expected to alter its composition much, going into this game. Cape Verde coach Lucio Antunes would be counting on the likes of Ryan Mendes, Heldon Ramos, Djaniny and skipper Nando Neves to provide much-needed inspiration while, for the Ghanaians, hardly any changes are foreseen with regards to the team that beat Niger handsomely in the last group game, bar the probable return from injury-cum-suspension of set-piece specialist Mubarak Wakaso. Goal.com