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Black Stars plot AFCON qualification bid in South Africa, Sao Tome double header

The Black Stars of Ghana will be looking to make its 23rd appearance at the biggest continental football showpiece when they lock horns against South Africa and Sao Tome & Principe in the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification double-header.

The Black Stars face-off against Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Thursday, March 25 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg and would host the True Parrots of Sao Tome & Principe three days later in the final Group C match at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.

The Black Stars just need a win from these two matches to qualify for next year’s tournament to be played in Cameroon from January-February 2022.

Despite the Black Stars leading Group C having amassed nine points the task ahead seems a bit tricky especially against second-place South Africa who are eager for revenge of their 2-0 loss in Cape Coast back in 2019.

Sudan, who currently placed third on six points would be targeting their ninth appearance in the AFCON as they take on the Sao Tome in their penultimate encounter and face off against South Africa in the last group encounter.

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Perhaps the Black Stars have an insurance policy on their qualification with their last game against Sao Tome & Principe even if they lose to South Africa but football as we all know cannot be prejudged therefore C.K Akunnor and his lads have to put things in place to secure Ghana a spot at the 2021 AFCON.

Notably, the last time Ghana missed out on qualification to the AFCON was 2004 and Coach C.K Akunnor would not like to repeat the same disappointment especially with the talented crop of players in camp now.

The Blacks Stars would be probably missing the services of top three key players Dede Ayew, Jordan Ayew, and Thomas Partey who are currently not in the squad to COVID-19 travelling concerns but Black Stars coach C.K Akunnor has handed call ups to some talented youngsters who ply their trade in the Ghana Premier League.

The likes of Asante Kotoko’s Ganiyu Ismael, Great Olympics’ Gladson Awako and Dreams FC’s Joseph Esso would prove a point to prove considering their stellar performances in 2020/21 Ghana Premier League.
Prior to the double-header the Black Stars cruised past Ghana Premier League side Legon Cities 3-1 in a friendly encounter played at the Accra Sports Stadium last Wednesday and looked very poised for the upcoming task.
The Squad:

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Goalkeepers: Richard Ofori (Orlando Pirates – South Africa), Razak Abalora (Asante Kotoko – Ghana), Eric Ofori Antwi (Medeama SC – Ghana), Danlad Ibrahim (Asante Kotoko- Ghana)

Full Backs: Baba Abdul Rahman (PAOK – Greece), Benson Annan (MLK Zilina – Slovakia), Philemon Baffuor (Dreams FC – Ghana), Imoro Ibrahim (Asante Kotoko)

Central Defenders: Nicholas Opoku (Amiens SC – France), Ganiyu Ismael (Asante Kotoko – Ghana), Joseph Adjei (Legon Cities), Yussif Mubarik (Asante Kotoko)

Central Midfield: Kudus Mohammed (Ajax Amsterdam – Holland), Mubarak Wakaso (Jiangsu Suning F.C – China), Afriyie Acquah (Yeni Malatyaspor – Turkey), Emmanuel Lomotey (Amiens SC – France), Gladson Awako (Great Olympics -Ghana), Justice Blay (Medeama SC – Ghana), Kwame Afriyie Poku (Colchester United – England)

Left Attacking Midfield: Osman Bukari (Gent – Belgium), Joseph Esso (Dreams FC- Ghana)

Attackers: Emmanuel Boateng (Dalian Professional- China), Emmanuel Gyasi (Spezia – Italy), Kwame Opoku (Asante Kotoko – Ghana), John Antwi (Pyramids FC – Egypt), Kwasi Okyere Wriedt (Willem II – Holland), Caleb Ekuban (Trabzonspor – Turkey).