Black Stars To Shine On In AFCON
Ghana v Equatorial Guinea
Tournament hosts Equatorial Guinea take on one of the powerhouses of African football when they meet Ghana in this Thursday’s semi-final…
After topping the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations’ group of death with six points following wins against Algeria and South Africa, Ghana then went on to record a comfortable 3-0 win over Guinea in the quarter-finals.
Everton loanee Christian Atsu scored twice and Crystal Palace striker Kwessi Appiah netted his first ever international goal as the Black Stars progressed to their fifth consecutive Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
But it hasn’t been a straightforward journey to the last four for Ghana. They began the campaign with a defeat to Senegal and then looked as though they would follow that up with only a point against Algeria before Asamoah Gyan scored deep into injury time to snatch the win, and then they were required to come back from being 1-0 behind against South Africa in their final group stage match to take the required three points.
Equatorial Guinea have also had a charmed couple of weeks to reach this point. They were up against it after drawing their first two group stage matches, before a 2-0 win against Gabon in their last match meant that they would reach the knockout stages of the tournament for only the second time in their history.
Then it looked as though an amicable run would come to an end at the quarter-finals stage as Tunisia commanded complete control of their last-8 clash. That was right up until the final minute when a hugely controversial penalty was awarded to the hosts. Javier Balboa kept his head, when all about him were losing theirs, and converted from the spot to send the game into extra time before a moment of brilliance, again from Balboa, sent the home fans into ecstasy and booked a place in the last four.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan took a knock towards the end of the game against Guinea and reportedly required help to board the team bus after the game. The expectation is that he will still be available for this Thursday, but his situation will be monitored.
Equatorial Guinea have no fresh injury concerns coming into the game. This will be the first fixture that the hosts have played away from the Estadio de Bata this tournament.
In my match preview of the game I gave Equatorial Guinea no chance of beating Tunisia in the quarter-finals, and was almost justified. They did very little to deserve the draw, let alone progression to the semi-finals, and I saw no reason to suggest they might be capable of causing what would be an even bigger upset here.
In fact, the 10/11 about a Ghana win looks extremely appealing and in normal circumstances I’d suggest piling into the Black Stars.
But this is the African Cup of Nations, and anything can, and often does, happen. So although the play on Ghana is the only way forward, best to keep stakes modest. Likewise for punts on the appealing 11/4 about Ghana -1 and the 15/2 available on Ghana -2.