With the Black Stars’ chances hanging by a thread after matchday two, Kwesi Appiah’s charges, against all odds, now have their destiny back in their own hands as they seek to make it a quadruplet of Word Cup appearances.
And the latest development has everything to do with Uganda’s 1-0 home triumph over Egypt on Thursday. Second on the table and two points adrift of the Pharaohs ahead of the big clash, the Cranes have now jumped top of the table.
Ghana, following a scoreless draw with Uganda and a 2-0 fall at Egypt in the opening two games, still sit a lowly third ahead of Congo but Thursday’s result in Kampala means the Black Stars will now make Russia 2018, provided they win all remaining games.
It’s for this reason that Friday’s showdown in Kumasi is of massive importance.
Although the likes of Christian Atsu, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Thomas Partey and Afriyie Acquah are back in the fold after missing the last two games against Mexico and the USA, the Black Stars will be without beleaguered striker Raphael Dwamena in addition to Mubarak Wakaso, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and goalkeeper Razak Brimah who have all not made the squad since Appiah took over in May.
“We need the points not only for the fans but ourselves too,” Andre told pressmen in Kumasi. “We cannot afford to get any other result, or we can say we’re out of the Word Cup.”
Captain Asamoah Gyan, the only surviving member of Ghana’s team at their debut Word Cup in 2006, will bring his immense experience to bear as he seeks to extend his all-time leading scorer record of 51 goals in 105 internationals.
Congo, on the other hand, will do without Prince Oniangue, striker Dylan Saint-Louis and Delvin N’Dinga, who have all been excused to sorts out club transfers.
That said, coach Sebastien Migne still has enough weapons to hurt the Black Stars.
Osmanlispor striker Thievy Bifouma will be the main man from whom the Red Devils will look to derive inspiration while Angers frontman Ferebory Dore, who netted the side’s only goal in the third round qualifiers thus far – the solitary goal in matchday one’s 2-1 home reversal to Egypt – is still in the squad.
But Migne is still not promising anything.