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Africa Cup of Nations - Group D Camp Focus

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By Alan Robins

Wednesday 01 February 2012

The final games in Group D later today see Ghana, Guinea and Mali all vying to go through to the next stage. Ghana take on Guinea and Mali play Botswana. Whoever finish top of the group will meet Tunisia, the runners-up meeting co-hosts Gabon.

The Ghana vs Guinea could prove to be a lively encounter. Guinea’s opening loss to Mali means that the Syli Nationale will probably have to beat Ghana by a good score to qualify but are confident following a 6-1 thrashing of Botswana. Ghana only need a draw but believe they can continue their winning run. Black Stars, assistant coach Kwesi Appiah stated; “The next game against Guinea, it’s very important for us. We will treat it as we did the first two games”. Appiah also had some encouragement for playmaker, Derek Boateng, who has hardly featured so far: "We all know that Derek is one of our best players. He is a fantastic player. It is also important to have a good bench who you can always rely on”.

Ghana yet to concede a goal, will have a full choice in defence to select from, with both captain John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah available for selection. The two experienced centre backs may be needed as nothing but a win for Guinea will see them go home from the tournament. Guinea coach, Michael Dussuyer said: "Against Ghana it will be like a final We made a big statement. [against Botswana] and now we will do everything to stay on in Gabon. We are determined and we have to play at a very high level." However, The Black Stars are in determined mood not become another upset. “We are prepared for any team and we will take our chances", said ‘Baby Jet’ Asamoah Gyan."

Mali, second in Group D, take on Botswana determined to ensure qualification to the knockout stages. The Eagles are level on points but after beating Guinea 1-0 in their opener are in front of The Syli Nationale on the head-to-head rule. Victory may not guarantee progress, but should put them in a strong position. Mali will be led by captain Cedric Kante, who stated: “Our approach to this match is much simpler to work out than going into the matches against Guinea and Ghana - and I hope we'll do what we have to do.” Kante believes the performances against Guinea and Ghana have shown that this predominantly young squad are a team, not a collection of individuals. "We need to continue to play as a team. A team who depend only on individual players will fail, but a team who are united and play for each other, will always win”. The Zebras meanwhile will be determined to restore some pride following their drubbing by Guinea, but coach, Stanley Tshosane has said that a great deal of improvement needs to be made. "We need to know when and how to react, when to go forward, when to go backwards and our concentration must be better but we have learnt from this experience. We felt the most important thing was to motivate each other and have a common idea - I'm quite sure the guys are ready”. How ready The Zebras are will be seen against The Eagles team pursuing qualification.

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