The Black Stars take on The Blue Sharks in the first quarter final at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. It is difficult to envisage two teams with such different Africa Cup of Nations pedigree. Ghana, finalists on eight occasions, four times winners; for Cabo Verde, South Africa has marked their debut in the tournament.
Ghana comfortably topped Group B with two wins and a draw, scoring six goals in the process, all through different players, and conceding only two. Cabo Verde meanwhile progressed as runners up in Group A with two draws and a win in their final match to Portuguese speaking rivals Angola. Ghana will be heavy favourites, winning all three of their previous meetings with the islanders scoring seven, conceding none in the process.
The Blue Sharks’ journey has surprised many, but it may be unfair to call this a fairytale. Cabo Verde have believed in themselves, have been organized, hard-working and shown a great team spirit and unity. They have nothing to lose going into this match.
However, by contrast, all the expectation and the pressure will be on The Black Stars. Ghana realize they cannot take Cabo Verde lightly. Ghana winger Albert Adomah said: “We
This was a sentiment reinforced by Black Stars coach, Kwesi Appiah, who may have raised a few eyebrows when he said he’d rather his team face Ivory Coast than Cabo Verde. Appiah explained: “I believe Cape Verde is a very strong team now. I still think we will beat them, but it will not be easy. The reason for thinking that is because I know every player in the Ivory Coast side and I know what to expect from them.”
“Cape Verde, on the other hand, are coming to the game a very strong team but with no pressure on them at all. They are not expected to win, and so they have nothing to lose and that is a fear for me. Of course Ivory Coast is a dangerous opponent, but you know how to plan for a familiar opponent under pressure like yourself.”
The Ghanaian aristocrats maybe a step too far for Cabo Verde, but Coach Lucio Antunes has proved to be an excellent leader for the minnows and appears to be looking forward to the challenge. He said: “We are happy to play against them because they are one of the best in Africa and at this stage of the competition we have to come up against such teams. We will now simply keep on working hard and try to win the next game.”
Ghana may be favourites, but would anyone begrudge Cabo Verde their shot at history?
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