Monday, January 23, 2012

| by


24.01. (Tue) 17:00 Ghana - Botswana

Sulley Muntari leads Ghana in a merry dance after he opens the scoring against Uruguay (Getty Images)




Paintsil, Alhassan, Boye, Mensah
Annan, Badu, Andre Ayew
Gyan, Muntari, J. Ayew

Thuma, Gabonamong, Ohilwe, Ramohibidu
Mogorosi, Mongala, Mafoko, Moatlhaping
Moloi, Ramatlhakwane
If the last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations are anything to go by, then it is safe to say the 2012 tournament is Ghana’s to lose.

The west Africans have improved game after game with each passing tournament, and sustaining such performances in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea could lead them to the ultimate prize. Ghana came third in 2008; second in 2010 and the absence of giants such as Egypt, Nigeria and Cameroon has convinced several pundits that the Black Stars are in for gold this time around.

Their opening game is against debutants Botswana – a lowly-placed side, but with a danger-man who scored five out of their seven goals during the qualifying campaign to come second on the overall top scorers’ chart.

The four-time African champions have no injury worries as key striker Asamoah Gyan has recovered in time to be a probable starter. However, one of their influential defenders Isaac Vorsah will miss the opening game due to a suspension.

The southern Africans’ Joel Mogorosi of Township Rollers will miss the tournament and Botswana Defence Force XI defender Mompathi Thuma has injury worries. Their star player  Dipsy Selolwane of SuperSport United is serving a suspension and cannot play in the opening game.

It appears the tournament regulars have the upper hand as the most experienced side, but the Zebras also look set to be part of history, and have nothing to lose in the process.

  • Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has put his job on the line if he does not win the trophy.
  • Ghana have made 17 appearances at the Afcon - winning four titles; two of which were won on home soil (1963 and 1978).
  • The Black Stars did not lose a game throughout the qualifying campaign and conceded only a goal.
  • Botswana were the first country to qualify for the Afcon finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
  • The coach of the Zebras is a former army officer who has declared a no sex ban on his players throughout the tournament.
  • Botswana is making their debut after qualifying from a group that contained Tunisia, Togo and Malawi in it.
Ghana are the most experienced side in this encounter and could carry the day, but the southern Africans have proven to have what it takes to end the game in a draw.
Editor's Prediction
Ghana 1-1 Botswana