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AFCON 2021 qualifiers preview: Ghana faces South Africa tonight

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The Black Stars will today open the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against the Bafana Bafana at Cape Coast Sports Stadium at 7 pm before playing Sao Tome and Principe four days later.

Ghana goes into the games with a new Football Association (FA), President and executive council that will steer the affairs of the association for the next four years.

The FA has launched a passion-igniting campaign for the Black Stars’ African Cup qualifying campaign.

The drive, known as ‘Bring Back the Love’, is aimed at igniting passion and galvanizing support for the Black Stars as they seek to redeem themselves after their disappointing 2019 AFCON battle.

As part of the initiative, players and officials of the Black Stars made brief stop-overs, on their way to Cape Coast, where they interacted with fans and distributed merchandise to them.

THE TEAM NEWS

GHANA

  • Ghana starts their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign at home to South Africa in their first competitive match since disappointingly losing on penalties against Tunisia in the last 16 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt last July.
  • They have an excellent record of qualifying for the finals having only failed to do so on one occasion since 1990 and are the highest-ranked team in a group also containing Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe.
  • Coach Kwesi Appiah has called up seven new faces to his squad including Spanish based players Mohammed Salisu of Real Valladolid and Real Mallorca’s Iddrisu Baba. The Ayew brothers, Jordan and team captain Andre, are in the squad and are both expected to start.

SOUTH AFRICA

  • South Africa face the toughest challenge of their qualifying group first up as they travel to face group favourites Ghana in their opening match of the 2021 AFCON qualifying campaign.
  • They had a good run to the quarter-finals at the 2019 AFCON final tournament in Egypt where they produced a shock 1- 0 win against the host nation in the last 16. In the next game, they lost in heartbreaking fashion against Nigeria with a late winning goal deciding the match.
  • South Africa are without the injured Themba Zwane but Sifiso Hlanti and Thamsanqa Mkhize both return to the squad after missing their last friendly match against Mali through injury.

THE PREDICTION

Expectations are high for Ghana as they start their qualifying campaign against South Africa, who is likely to be their closest rivals in the group, though with two spots up for grabs they are both expected to earn qualification ahead of Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe. The South African head coach Ottis Gibson has stated how he sees a point as a good result and it would be no shock if they played with a defensive mindset with the onus on Ghana to break them down. Recent matches between these two nations have been very close and a low scoring draw in the prediction.

The 2021 AFCON tournament will be hosted by Cameroon.

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