Ghana host Ivory Coast at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium in an international friendly on Saturday, which both sides will be willing to enjoy the most of.
The Black Stars will be going into the game off a 1-0 defeat to Morocco. Pressure is mounting on Head Coach, Charles Akonnor, whose side has been in an unconvincing run of form.
Under his tutelage the Black Stars have won only two of the last five matches and that came against lowly sides Sudan and Sao Tome. He will hope to turn things around when they face an adventurous and more tough Ivory Coast setup.
Unlike Ghana, Ivory Coast have been in good form more recently and are unbeaten in their last five games.
Coach Patrice Beaumelle’s side beat Burkina Faso 2-1 just last week and will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak when the game kicks off later on Saturday.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the first meeting between both sides since Ghana lost the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals to the Ivory Coast via penalty shootout.
It is also the first meeting between the two on Ghanaian soil since the 3rd place Playoff game during the AFCON 2008 tournament.
The game is the 20th friendly head to head between these sides, with the first being held way back in February 1967.
Ghana possess a slight edge across the preceding 19 exhibition battles (W7, D6, L6). However, the Ivory Coast won the last friendly 1-0, potentially setting them up to register consecutive friendly wins for the first time since April 1987,
PRE MATCH STATS:
The Black Stars have kept just one half time clean sheet in their last 3 friendly matches under Coach CK Akonnor.
Ghana has failed to score in 2 of their last 3 friendly matches under Coach Akonnor.
The Black Stars’ record in their last 3 friendlies is (W1, L2).
Ivory Coast should be difficult to penetrate before the break as they have 6 half time clean sheets from 7 games, including an admirable 1-1 draw against FIFA #1 ranked Belgium.
Ghana’s Jordan Ayew’s is hoping to draw level with his brother André Ayew and father Abedi Pele (19 goals) in the all-time scorers for Ghana. He needs one goal to do that.
Ivory Coast: W-W-W-D-W
Ghana welcomed Thomas Partey and Tariqe Fosu to the side after both missed the Morocco trip.
Coach Akonnor is expected to keep faith with the beleaguered goalie Razak Abalora whose howler against Morocco led to the only goal of the game.
Midfielder Gladson Awako is fit and available for selection for the Black Stars after missing the Morocco game due to injury. He’s however unlikely to start.
Ivory Coast will be without the duo of Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha, however the likes of Franck Kessie, Willy Boly, Eric Bailly and Serge Aurier are all available for the game.
Manchester United starlet Amad Diallo who netted his debut international goal in the win against Burkino Faso last week is also in line to start.
Ghana Probable XI:
Razak Abalora; Baba Rahman, Daniel Amartey, Nicholas Opoku, Andy Yiadom; Baba Iddrisu, Thomas Partey, Wakaso Mubarak, Mohammed Kudus; Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew
Ivory Coast Probable XI:
Sylvain Gbohuo; Wilfried Singo, Maxwell Cornet, Willy Boly, Sinaly Diomandé; Serey Die, Ibrahima Sangare, Franck Kessie; Max Gradel, Sebastien Haller, Amad Diallo
REFEREE AND MATCH OFFICIALS
Senegalese referee Douada Gueye has been appointed to officiate the game.
The 37 year old will be assisted by compatriots Serigne Cheick Toure (Assistant I) and Ngom Amadou (Assistant II).
Ghana’s Latif Adaari will serve as the fourth official.
TIME: The game is scheduled to kick off at 5pm GMT.