Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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24.01. (Thu) 16:00 Ghana - Mali


Dauda, Paintsil, Vorsah, Boye, Asamoah, Annan, Badu, Adomah, Atsu, Wakaso, Gyan

Samassa, Diawara, Tamboura, Wague, N’Diaye, C. Diarra, Keita, K. Traore, M. Traore, S. Diarra, Diabate

The Black Stars are under pressure to beat the Eagles of Mali on Thursday after drawing their first group match. Ghana threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with DR Congo in the Group B opener. But the Malians fought hard to record a 1-0 win over Niger to move to the summit of the table.
This will be the third meeting between the two sides in the last 12 months. At the 2012 Afcon, the four-time African champions beat Mali 2-0 in the group stage, but the Black Stars suffered the same defeat when they met again in the third place play-off.
Ghana were deprived of the services of some key players who had injury concerns prior to the first match and coach Kwesi Appiah will be hoping those players are available.
Defender Isaac Vorsah was unable to pass the fitness test to start in central defence. Anthony Annan, who ordinarily is a starter, had to come on in the 73rd minute. The two players are likely to return to the starting line-up against Mali.
Captain Asamoah Gyan and Mubarak Wakaso picked up injuries after the DR Congo match, but the medical team is optimistic that they will pass the fitness test for the second match.
Goalkeeper Fatau Dauda who was the only local player to play on Sunday will maintain his spot after justifying his place in the team.
Mali came into the tournament with a great deal of confidence after winning bronze last year at the expense of Ghana. Their coach Patrice Carteron is fresh to the Africa terrain, but he has a collection of players who have played together for a while and also play competitively at club level.
The Eagles will draw inspiration from the former Barcelona man Seydou Keita, who is making his sixth appearance at the Afcon. The 33-year-old proved his worth after scoring the lone goal against Niger and he will certainly be a thorn in the flesh of Ghana’s team. The likes of Diawara and Diabate are other players who offer a great deal to the Malian side.

The last time Ghana won the Africa Cup of Nations title was in 1982.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah is a former captain of the Black Stars.
The Black Stars denied Mali of qualification to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Ghana’s Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu was the first to score a goal at the 2013 Afcon.
Mali are making their eighth appearance at the tournament while Ghana are making their 19th appearance at the Afcon.
The Eagles are the first team to win a match at the tournament after the first three matches ended in draws.
Mali’s best performance in the history of the competition was in 1972 when they finished as runners-up.
Seydou Keita dedicated his goal against Niger to the people of Mali.

It is going to be one of the toughest games at the group stage, but expect Ghana to pick the three points. In the first match, most of the Black Stars players who were expected to shine had an average game but once they come to light on Thursday, it will be difficult for the Malians to stop them.
Editor's Prediction
Ghana 2-1 Mali