AWCON 2018: It’s make or break for Black Queens

BY: Rosalind K. Amoh
AWCON 2018: It’s make or break for Black Queens
Black Queens

It’s a make or break for Ghana’s Black Queens this afternoon as they face their moment of truth against an improving Camerounian side in a crucial Group A encounter whose outcome could decide the hosts’ fate in the Total Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Tipped as one of the sides to make it to the knockout stage as hosts, the Black Queens are threatened with early elimination if they are unable to beat the Indomitable Lionesses at the Accra Sports Stadium this afternoon.

The situation Coach Bashir Hayford and his team find themselves in looks quite complicated. They have to win massively against Cameroun and at the same time hope that the other group encounter between second-placed Mali and Algeria being played simultaneously at the Cape Coast Stadium ends in a draw or goes the way of the North Africans who have no chance of progressing into the knockout phase after losing their first two matches. Algeria are, therefore, playing only for pride.

A slow start against Algeria and a 1-2 loss to Mali last Tuesday could make Ghana’s host-and-win dream go up in smoke unless the Ghanaians are able to pull through an emphatic win.

At the pre-match press conference yesterday, Coach Hayford attempted to allay fears that all was not lost even though he admitted his players were downhearted by their loss to Mali but he was psyching them up to brace up for the Cameroun challenge.

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“It has not been easy since we played our last game because the mood in camp was a sad one as the girls were in tears. In fact, we used the whole of yesterday to psyche them up and gradually they are getting better,” Hayford said.

The Ghana coach maintained a confident posture ahead of this afternoon’s clash.

“We are not out of the competition yet so we have another chance to redeem our image. Cameroun indeed has six points but they have also not qualified because in football anything can happen. Algeria can beat Mali and we too can beat Cameroun, so I want to urge Ghanaians not to write the girls off. I strongly believe that we will beat Cameroun tomorrow to get six points then we see what happens in the other match between Mali and Algeria,” he added.

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Ghana striker Sherifatu Sumaila is also expecting the Black Queens to come firing on all cylinders against the Indomitable Lionesses who booked their semi-final ticket after two straight wins.

“We went back and watched the footage of the game against Mali and identified certain things that we need to correct and the coaches are working on that so hopefully we should bounce back to winning ways.

“All is not lost although I feel Ghanaians are expecting too much from us. However, we are going to do our best to make sure we beat Cameroun on Friday irrespective of what happens in the other Group A game in Cape Coast,” Sumaila said.

A win against Cameroun will not guarantee Ghana a safe passage into the next round, as they are tied on points with second-placed Mali who could qualify ahead of Ghana on the head-to-head rule if they beat Algeria in Cape Coast.

The Indomitable Lionesses can afford to relax as they have already qualified to the semi-finals. A point will be enough to keep them on top of the group log. Nonetheless, their coach Joseph Brian Ndoko says his side will still keep their feet on the accelerator.

“A draw will see us through, but that will not be our vision going into the game. We are poised to end the group stages with a win and hopefully, we can achieve that against Ghana tomorrow. We are going to give it our best shot,” he said.