Ghana and Rwanda face off in a game both sides probably would have forfeited if they had their way
By: Jimmy Aidoo
Ghana host the Amavubi of Rwanda at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday in the pair’s final Afcon 2017 Group H qualifier.
The game has, fortunately or otherwise, had its build-up replete with several front-page-worthy news, making up for its pointlessness as an exercise. Avram Grant’s men squat defiantly atop the group on 13 points — seven better than their guests — scoring as many goals and conceding just two in the five games already played. The Black Stars left it late in the first leg last year in Kigali, walking away with maximum points on that occasion courtesy a superbly executed Mubarak Wakaso free-kick.
Ghana boss Grant has made a huge statement of intent by keeping his cards close to his chest and handing out call-ups to his usual cavalry despite calls by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, to use ‘local’ players on account of the nation’s depleted purse and the game’s staleness.
“My target is to lead the first African country to make history at the World Cup and be African champion at the same time,” the Israeli, in justifying his decision, has argued.
That said, Asante Kotoko forward Dauda Muhammed — in place of skipper Asamoah Gyan whose return to the team after nine months out is set to be delayed in view of his exertions in the last few days while securing a new club for himself — has been handed a late, maiden invitation together with fellow Ghana Premier League stars Abednego Tetteh and Emmanuel Ocran who are in for absent Christian Atsu and injured Ebenezer Assifuah respectively, bringing to five the number of home-based players in the squad. Another potential debutant is young Yaw Yeboah, the Manchester City lad currently on loan at FC Twente in the Netherlands.
The Rwandans have suffered no less turmoil, with head coach Johnny McKinstry sacked a fortnight to the game. His interim replacement, Gilbert Yaounde Kanyankole, invited 26 players but was sensationally ousted for Jimmy Mulisa few days later. Mulisa then omitted some names from the squad he inherited before settling on an 18-man roster for the trip.