TOMORROW’S quarterfinal soccer clash between Ghana and Cape Verde is simply a mismatch. The Africa Cup of Nations’ David versus Goliath showdown takes place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
It would be easy to assume Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah is overjoyed to face cup debutants in such a crucial encounter, but the Black Stars boss admitted being nervous facing the underdogs following their progress from the group stages.
“I would have been more comfortable facing Ivory Coast to be honest,” said Appiah, although he might want to rethink that statement given the Elephants are favourites to win the Nations Cup and would no doubt trouble Ghana.
“When you are playing a team that has got nothing to lose it’s difficult because there is no pressure on them. That is the fear in me.”
Appiah has reasons to be afraid of the Blue Sharks, who have been surrounded by a veil of secrecy since their arrival last week.
Cape Verde only beat Angola in their three Group A matches, drawing the other two against hosts South Africa and Morocco.
Appiah has monitored them and said not much had changed since the Black Stars last played Cape Verde in Portugal almost three months ago.
Ghana won the match 1-0.
“But to me that result did not matter. Even if we won 10-0 the scoreline wouldn’t be important. I look at how we play, if we have improved on our tactics, and how the opposition also play,” said Appiah.
“They [Cape Verde] are very physical and tactically disciplined. Their style of play is very similar to Mali and for us Mali was a good side to play against – the most difficult in our group.” Ghana narrowly beat Mali 1-0 in their Group B match at the same venue they take on Cape Verde.
While the Blue Sharks have hardly shown any signs of complacency and seem to improve with every game in the group stages, Ghana have worried their fans and their coach.
In their 3-0 win over Niger, the Black Stars took the foot off the pedal when they felt the match was put to bed after their third goal. Appiah blasted his side.
“It’s normal that if a team is leading 3-0 they would be more relaxed. But my players started playing the ball in their own half and gave away possession. That is something I had to address,” the coach said.
Ghana continue to grow in confidence though, especially with key man and skipper Asamoah Gyan finally scoring his first goal in the Nations Cup against Niger. But Cape Verde will be no pushovers.