Black Stars drawn against Pharaohs in World Cup Play-off
The Black Stars now know they must overcome the Pharaohs of Egypt if they are to reach a third successive World Cup finals. Egypt, the only side on the continent to have a 100% record in qualifying, were the one non-seeded team all the seeds would have hoped to avoid. However Ghana must do battle with them in a two legged play off in October and November to decide one of the five African finalists to go to Brazil next year.
The first legs of the ties will played between 11 and 15 October, with the return legs taking place between 15-19 November.Football’s world governing body Fifa has asked for the countries to nominate the day of the ties, venues and kick-offs by Friday. Ghana will play at home in the first leg and away in the second.
Make no mistake this is a heavyweight clash between the two most successful countries in African nations history. Ghana may take heart confidence from the sides’ last meeting – a 3-0 win for the Black Stars in a friendly in Abu Dhabi in January. However in their last competitive match the Egyptians were victorious in the ACN final of 2010 a game which Asamoah Gyan, Kwadwo Asamaoh & Andre Ayew will remember well and be keen to avenge. Moreover the Pharaohs won all six of their Group G matches so Ghana will be expecting a tough game from the Egyptians in both legs who have one of the most promising African talents in their mist in the shape of Mohamed Salah a tricky winger who at only 21 years old has 17 goals for his country in 24 appearances. so the Ghanaian defence will have to be on their toes against him.
There is a lot of political unrest in Egypt so no guarantees the second leg game will be played in the national stadium in Cairo. If not it means it could be played in El Gouna, in a stadium that has an all-seated capacity of only 12,000. If so that will be less intimidating for Ghana and importantly less inspiring for the Egyptians particularly if they need to get a result. So It will be interesting to see whether the authorities sanction the use of the Cairo International Stadium, which has an all-seated capacity of 75,00, for what is likely to be a crucial second leg – and where home advantage could be key for Egypt.
Indeed the Black Stars chances may come down to what they can do in the first leg with home advantage. Ghana’s clash with Egypt is arguably the pick of African play-off ties of which the others are as follows;
- Ivory Coast v Senegal
- Ethiopia v Nigeria
- Tunisia v Cameroon
- Burkina Faso v Algeria
What do you think of the Black Stars chances? Lets get talking!
In the Black Stars we trust!
Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)