Sports Features Wed, 12 Jun 2019

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Ghana’s road to AFCON 2019

The qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations started back in March 2017. Following a small preliminary round, the teams were drawn into groups of four and Ghana were placed with Kenya, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone in Group F.

In truth, they could not have asked for a much better group, with Kenya being the biggest threat. However, in November, Sierra Leone were disqualified by FIFA and their matches were annulled which came as shock to the group.

Nonetheless, of the four games played by Ghana, they won three and topped the group by 2 points ahead of Kenya. The only disappointment came in a 1-0 loss at Kenya but Ghana got their revenge thanks to 1-0 win of their own in the final group match.

Ghana were placed in pot 2 for the draw of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and were drawn with the defending champions, Cameroon plus Benin and Guinea-Bissau. Two of Ghana’s games will be played in the Ismailia Stadium and the third at the Suez Stadium.

The Black Stars will begin their campaign against Benin and this gives them a great chance to get off the mark with a win. This is only the fourth time Benin have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations and they have recently been suspended by FIFA. The Benin Football Federation dissolved the national team in 2010 and they have a troubled past.

Ghana’s squad looks vastly superior to their opponents with players plying their trade across the globe. Nicholas Opoku of Udinese, Kasim Nuhu of Hoffenheim, Kwadwo Asamoah of Inter Milan, Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid and André Ayew of Fenerbahce are examples of some of the players Ghana have at their disposal for this tournament.

There is one notable omission from the Ghana squad and his name is Asamoah Gyan. The striker has 51 international goals to his name but went into international exile following the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He returned when he was called up in October 2018 for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games but then retired from international duty in May 2019. It is thought he has now changed his mind but Gyan was not included in the squad for this tournament.

That leaves Ghana looking for a source of goals and the Ayew brothers as the main men up-front. They have 14 goals each for Ghana and will need to step up and deliver if Ghana are to go deep in the competition.

Cameroon are expected to challenge Ghana for top spot in the group and the teams will meet in the second round of matches. With the top two guaranteed a place in the next round, defeat would not be a disaster but Ghana will not want to go into the final game knowing they need to win or rely on from results elsewhere.

Their record speaks for itself and Ghana have reached the semi-final in each of the last six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. They know how to get the job done in the group stages and despite this being the biggest Africa Cup of Nations in history, they will be confident of maintaining their impressive record.

However, having reached the semi-final for six tournaments in a row they never went on to win the event. You must go back to 1982 to find the last time Ghana won the Africa Cup of Nations and it appears they have a problem getting over the final hurdle.

There is no doubt the squad is capable of going far in Egypt. Not having the goal scoring prowess of Gyan could be a big miss and the hosts along with Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria will strongly fancy their chances of winning the event.

Another semi-final appearance for Ghana is not out of the question but their progress could end at the same point it has in previous recent attempts.

Bookmakers with their offers mostly agree with the scenario with the stage of semifinal being a realistic goal for Ghana. Road to the final game would be a great bonus for the players and their fans. Sports fans already know it. When you advance from the semifinal, everything can happen in just one final match.

Nevertheless to say, they have legit arguments to take a risk with the 6/1 offer from Bet365 for Ghana to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. In this regard, fans have a bonus of their own. Knowing what is the bonus code for Bet365 will definitely help them to take an advantage of the bookmaker's offer and keep track with the whole tournament from a different angle.

Source: Pete Marsden

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