Ghana’s Black Stars are heavy favourites to secure one of the two slots from Group E in the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Ghana will have to avoid defeat against the Central African Republic on Thursday, September 7, 2023, to secure qualification to the tournament.
The fixture, scheduled for the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, is the final match of the qualifiers and will kick off at 4:00 pm Ghanaian time.
“Of course, Ghana is playing at home, and they are the favourites,” said CAR Head Coach Raoul Savoy in an interview with the Ghanaian website, Ghanasportspage.com.
“It is the final game for both teams. They are the biggest team in the group, and it will be very tough, but we are coming to Ghana to play our game and try our best to qualify.”
Currently, Ghana leads Group E with 9 points, while second-placed Angola has 8 points with the Central African Republic (CAR) sitting in third place with 7 points.
Madagascar who occupy the bottom spot in the group with 2 points have been eliminated.
Prosper Harrison Addo, General Secretary of the Ghana Football Association, emphasized the commitment of the governing body to ensure that the Black Stars qualify for the 2023 AFCON.
“It’s a must, a game that we are not leaving anything unturned,” he told Citi Sports.
“We are going to work, both technically, with players, administratively, and everybody will put their shoulder to the wheel.”
Ghana and the Central African Republic have only met once.
Their previous fixture was the first leg of their Group E AFCON qualifier, which ended in a 1-1 draw at the 11th of November Stadium in Angola on June 2022.
- Ghana securing a win will guarantee qualification for the 2023 AFCON, while a victory will also qualify the Central African Republic to the tournament.
- In the event of a draw, Ghana will progress, and CAR would be eliminated due to an inferior head-to-head record against Angola.
- If Angola loses against Madagascar in the final match, Ghana will automatically qualify.
- However, should Ghana suffer a defeat and Angola secure a win, CAR would qualify, and Ghana would miss out on the AFCON.
TEAM FACTS: GHANA
- Ghana remains unbeaten in the AFCON qualifiers with two wins and three drawn matches.
- Ghana boasts a 100% home record in the qualifiers with wins over Madagascar and Angola.
- Ghana has maintained a 100% defensive record at home with two clean sheets against Angola and Madagascar.
- Ghana has qualified for every AFCON since missing out on the 2004 edition in Tunisia.
TEAM FACTS: CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC
- CAR has a 50% away record, with a 3-0 win at Madagascar and a 2-1 defeat at Angola.
- CAR is the highest-scoring away team in Group E with 4 goals in two games.
- CAR has never qualified for an AFCON since its inception in 1957.
- Spanish-Swiss Coach Raoul Savoy, in his third spell as coach of CAR, aims to be the first coach to qualify the side for a major tournament.
TEAM NEWS: Ghana
Twenty-five Black Stars players, led by captain Andre Ayew, who is currently a free agent are expected to begin camping on Monday, September 4, in Kumasi ahead of Thursday’s final AFCON qualifier against the Central African Republic.
Goalkeeper Richard Ofori, alongside Elisha Owusu, Baba Iddrisu, Patrick Schindler, Stephan Ambrosius, Ransford Königsdörffer, and Antoine Semenyo, all make a return after missing June’s qualifier against Madagascar.
Dennis Odoi, Patrick Kpozo, and Kwesi Okyere Wriedt failed to make the squad, joining a lengthy list of injured players, including goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott, Daniel Amartey, Majeed Ashimeru, Kamaldeen Sulemana, Mohammed Salisu, Benjamin Tetteh, and deputy captain Thomas Partey.
Medeama Striker Jonathan Sowah is the only new introduction and also the only local-based player in the Black Stars squad.
TEAM NEWS: Central African Republic:
The biggest absence for CAR is Marseille Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, who is injured.
Leading strikers Louis Mafouta of French Ligue 2 side Quevilly-Rouen and Karl Namnganda of La Roche Vendee have been included in the 24-man squad.
Holding the joint top-scorer record with legendary Hilaire Momi at 10 goals, Mafouta has a chance to become the Central African Republic’s all-time scorer.
Sixteen out of the 24 players invited by Coach Savoy were involved in the team’s first training session in Accra on Sunday, September 3.
Former Hearts of Oak attacker Yassan Ouatching, who has three caps, missed out on the latest squad.