Stal­lions out to dim Black Stars

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

“Les Etalons” of Burk­ina Faso host Ghana’s Black Stars in a West ‘B’ Zone To­tal African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship (CHAN) Kenya 2018 qual­i­fier first leg clash to­day at the Stade du 4 Août in Oua­gadougou.

Both teams will be seek­ing to qual­ify for the fifth edi­tion of the tour­na­ment de­signed ex­clu­sively for foot­ballers play­ing in their do­mes­tic leagues af­ter miss­ing out on the last edi­tion in Rwanda in 2016.

And with a ticket to Kenya on the ta­ble, the two teams have some scores to set­tle with the Burk­in­abes chas­ing their sec­ond ap­pear­ance af­ter their only par­tic­i­pa­tion in South Africa 2014.

Les Etalons will have re­venge on their minds af­ter the south­ern neigh­bours de­nied them a place at the fi­nal tour­na­ment of the 2011 edi­tion held in Su­dan.

The first leg in Oua­gadougou ended bar­ren be­fore the Ghana­ians nicked a lone goal win in the re­verse to go through 1-0 on ag­gre­gate.

His­tor­i­cally, matches be­tween the two at any level have been too close to call, of­ten end­ing in nar­row wins.

De­spite hav­ing the up­per­hand af­ter edging the Burk­in­abe in the 2011 qual­i­fiers, their last meet­ing, Les Etalons will be a hard nut to crack for the Ghana­ians es­pe­cially at their back­yard.

Ahead of the clash, the Black Stars de­feated the Hawks of Togo in Lome a few weeks ago, hav­ing hosted Gam­bia and Benin in sim­i­lar ex­er­cises.

How­ever, head coach Maxwell Konadu is los­ing sleep over the un­avail­abil­ity of some key play­ers, who have joined the ex­o­dus band­wagon, thus mak­ing them in­el­i­gi­ble to fea­ture in the com­pe­ti­tion.

The Black Stars, twice los­ing fi­nal­ists, 2009 (Cote d’Ivoire) and 2014 (South Africa), will be with­out West Africa Foot­ball Acad­emy duo, goal­keeper Razak Abalora, who has joined Tan­za­nia giants Azam, and Red Bull Salzburg-bound Ma­jeed Ashimeru.

The Ghana­ians must be wary of Burk­in­abe striker Blaise Yameogo, whose hat­trick in­spired Etoile Fi­lante to a 3-2 vic­tory over Union Sportive des Forces Armees in the Coupe du Faso (Burk­in­abe FA Cup) last Friday in Oua­gadougou.

The sec­ond leg will take place on Sun­day, Au­gust 20 in Ku­masi with the win­ner qual­i­fy­ing for the fi­nal tour­na­ment sched­uled for Jan­uary 12 to Fe­bru­ary 4 in Kenya.

Mean­while, There are just a few days to go be­fore the African qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Rus­sia gets back un­der way, with sev­eral teams anx­ious to re­turn to ac­tion and take an­other step to­wards the fi­nals.

For oth­ers, mean­while, the re­sump­tion will give them the chance to atone for fal­ter­ing starts to their cam­paigns and close in on their ri­vals.

The next round of games will take place at the end of this month and in early Septem­ber, with the qual­i­fiers reach­ing their con­clu­sion with two fi­nal match days in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

Af­ter los­ing 2-0 in Tu­nisia and then go­ing down 2-1 in Con­akry to Congo DR, Guinea are one of the sides with much to do.

Dis­cussing his side’s luck­less start, Guinea coach Lappe Ban­goura said: “I haven’t been in the Guinea job for long and it’s my first taste of coach­ing at this level.

“I need time to ad­just and im­pose my phi­los­o­phy.”

With two cru­cial Rus­sia 2018 qual­i­fiers com­ing up against Libya, Ban­goura wants to see his side main­tain their mo­men­tum. – ANA

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