2019 AFCON qualifier: Ghana vs Kenya preview
Kenya travelled to Ghana as leaders of Group F with 7 points, just one point above their Saturday’s opponents, the Black Stars, who are second in the three-member group following the disqualification of Sierra Leone. Both Kenya and Ghana have already qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Egypt next June.
However, the seemingly dead-rubber could be spiced up by the fight for the group’s top spot and Ghana’s desire to take their revenge after losing the first leg 1-0 to the Harambee Stars, who could be using the meeting for squad assessment ahead of the Afcon finals. Ghana players are also aware that the technical staff would be watching and taking notes on behalf of head coach Kwesi Appiah, who might finalise his Afcon list anytime soon. It’s definitely not going to be a child’s play at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
A win for the hosts would move them to top of the group with 9 points, but the visitors would be able to retain their position with just a draw against Ghana.
Squads & Team News
Reading defender Andy Yiadom withdrew from the squad due to injury. Royal Antwerp player Daniel Opare was handed a late call up as a replacement.
Possible Ghana starting XI: Ofori, Asamoah, Opoku, Boye, Adams, Andre Ayew, Partey, Wakaso, Schlupp, Jordan Ayew, Boateng
Michal Olunga and Ayub Timbe have been sidelined with injuries while Aboud Omar is suspended.
Probable XI for Kenya : Matasi, Otieno, Ouma, Musa, Mandela, Wanyama, Odhiambo, Gonzalez, Johanna, Kahata and Wanga.
Both teams are probably looking beyond their Saturday’s meeting, with barely three months away from the Afcon finals. Groundwork for the tournament could be starting from now. Ghana are hoping to end a 37-year wait for another Afcon title, with Kwesi Appiah’s future as coach likely to be decided by his team’s campaign in Egypt. The process of selecting the best players for the tournament could be tricky though but if Appiah gets it right here then he has leaped a major hurdle.
It’s a happy year for Kenya, who are returning to the competition since their last appearance in 2004. The Harambee Stars are yet to clinch an Afcon title and have not progressed beyond the group stage. However, the upcoming campaign could change that history going by their current ambition. An exploit against Ghana in Accra would boost their confidence ahead of the finals and that could be one of the main goals of Sébastien Migné in Ghana.
The Black Stars are favourites but could suffer an ugly fate if they fail to keep the lid on the clash.