Ghana vs Congo preview: Black Stars determined to earn first win
Both Ghana and Congo-Brazzaville will be desperate to get their 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign up and running with victory at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Friday.
Neither the Black Stars nor the Red Devils have yet to register a win after two rounds of Group E qualifiers, with Egypt leading the way on six points - closely followed by Uganda who have accumulated four points from two fixtures.
Ghana sits third following disappointing results in Tamale (0-0 vs Uganda) and Egypt (0-2 vs Egypt) late last year, with victory for the Pharoahs underling their tag as group favourites as they aim to make a return to the world stage.
The Black Stars are now in danger on failing to qualify for a fourth successive FIFA World Cup, having dazzled the globe at Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 & Brazil 2014.
As for Congo, they have yet to qualify for a world showpiece and will need a complete drastic turnaround if they are to finally break their duck and book their ticket to Russia next year.
A 2-1 defeat to Egypt in Brazzaville was followed by a 1-0 loss to the Cranes in Kampala.
Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah, has rallied his troops as the hosts aim to get their campaign up and running:
"You can never say it is a lost dream, because at the end of the day there are still a lot games to play before we get there, but It is a very tough hurdle," Mensah told KweseESPN. "Normally after two games we have four points, but now reality has hit us and we must deal with it.
"We basically need to win both games against Congo," he added. "If we don't win those two games it is over for us. We simply have to win them, because that will set us up really well for the Egypt game at home later."
Furthermore, Ghana head coach Kwesi Appiah has provided some clarity on his selection process heading into the clash:
"Before you make your call-up, you need to go out there and make sure you analyze, you get information on every player and that you follow every player weekly.
"Every call-up you have to consider the tactics you want to employ and you make a decision depending on that," Appiah said.
The reverse fixture will take place at the Stade Municipal de Kintélé in Brazzaville next Tuesday.
- Head to Head
Ghana wins: 10
Congo wins: 0
Goals for Ghana: 25
Goals for Congo: 8
- Last two encounters
01/09/2015 Congo 2-3 Ghana (Babele 54' Binguila 90' ; Babele OG 17' Boakye 19' J.Ayew 90+4')
13/01/2014 Ghana 1-0 Congo (Anobaah 34')
With only one goal between them in four games, it is no surprise that we underline the importance of both side's respective strike force.
Congo head coach Sébastien Migne will rely heavily on Ferebory Dore and Osmanlispor striker Thievy Bifouma, with both teams in desperate need of goals.
Ghana, though, will fancy their chances with fit again Asamoah Gyan leading the line. With over 50 international goals to his name, the Black Stars forward will again be key to the hosts success this weekend.
Not forgetting the brotherly duo of Andre & Jordan Ayew, who will be integral if Ghana are to turn a disappointing start into a fairy tale ending.