Both favorites of Group B could not win in the first round, and now the struggle on January 18 will become decisive for their fate in the tournament.
Ghana is close to failure
The last time the Ghana team became the champion of Africa was back in 1982. The current level of Black Stars is far from the standards of that golden generation.
The obvious problems of the head coach, Chris Hughton, began in October 2023, when his team lost to Mexico (0-2) and the USA (0-4) in friendly matches.
Since then, Ghana won only against Madagascar’s outsider, minimally lost to the Comoro Islands, tied with Namibia and suffered a sensational defeat from Cabo-Verde (1-2) in the Africa Nations Cup first round.
An unsuccessful start can be partially justified by the absence of Mohammed Kudus from West Ham and the injury of Thomas Partey from Arsenal, who could not go to the tournament. At the same time, too many questions have accumulated for Hughton. For almost a year, the Irish specialist could not solve the team’s problem in defence, relying too much on the individual skills of attacking players – Kudus, Antoine Semenyo, Inaki Williams, Jordan and Andre Ayew. Setting a combination game? No, the Ghana coach did not hear about this.
The fate of the Ghana team at the Africa Nations Cup is still in its hands, but now you need to beat one of the main favorites. Black Stars should show their best game so as not to repeat the failure of 2 years ago when they ended the group stage in the last place.
Salah needs support from partners
Mohammed Salah confirmed one of the main stars of CAN status already in the first round, assisted and scored a goal in the 90th minute, and saved the Pharaohs from a sensational defeat in the game with Mozambique.
The 31-year-old Liverpool forward is in excellent shape and is fully motivated. He did not find the period of dominance of the Egyptian national team, which from 2006 to 2010 won the Africa Nations Cup three times in a row, but remembers painful defeats in the 2017 and 2022 finals. The current tournament is one of the last chances to remind the whole continent of the Egyptian national team’s power and bring the trophy to Cairo.
Egypt doesn’t have more Salah-level football players, but the Pharaohs are traditionally famous for their high organization and implement the coaching ideas of Rui Vitoria.
Ghana has not beaten Egypt since 2013, and this streak has been going on at the Africa Nations Cup since 1992. Black Stars did not impress in the first match and, according to the bookmakers’ predictions, will be outsiders in the game against the Pharaohs.
Nevertheless, the fear of defeat and elimination from the tournament will be present in both teams. On Thursday, it is worth expecting a careful game with a small number of dangerous moments. Both teams do not differ in reliable defence and expect to catch each other on effective errors.