Stallions out to dim Black Stars
“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