The Black Galaxies have it all to play for when they lock horns with Sudan at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui on Thursday evening.
Annor Walker’s men suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Madagascar in the first game and desperately need a victory to stay in Algeria.
Fans eagerly await a potential cracker which begins at 19:00 GMT.
Will the two-time finalists sail through? Or will they leave fans disappointed as the other Ghanaian teams have over the past year?
The second game problem
It is Ghana’s fourth appearance in the competition. The team have mostly been successful in the past, reaching the final on two occasions (2009, 2014).
However, the West African side have a poor record in second group games in this competition. In their previous three, Ghana have failed to win any (2D 1L).
In 2009, Ghana were drawn into Group B with DR Congo, Zimbabwe and Libya. The first game ended 2-2 with Zimbabwe and the second one, which took place against Lybia, brought a similar result (1-1).
Two years later, the Black Galaxies recorded their worst record in the competition, losing all three group games, including a 1-0 loss to Zimbabwe.
In 2014, then-coach Maxwell Konadu led the team well, winning two out of three group stage matches. However, the one they failed to win, against eventual winners Lybia (1-1), was the second group stage match.
Considering the fact that Sudan are 8th on the CAF five-year ranking for the 2022/23 season and Ghana are 24th, the Black Galaxies enter the game as underdogs.
For further understanding, the CAF 5-Year Ranking system is used by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to determine the number of clubs that each member association may enter its club football competitions; the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup.
This means the Sudanese top flight is better than Ghana’s and has better local players.
The hope for Ghana
It is Ghana’s first ever meeting against Sudan in a CHAN tournament, leaving things somewhat balanced. However, looking at the head-to-head record of both teams using other national team levels, the West African side have been dominant, winning nine out of 13 meetings.
The Black Stars are responsible for most of the damage, winning four of their last five meetings against the Falcons of Jediane, scoring 11 times and conceding just twice.
This game is under different circumstances and different teams no doubt. But Annor Walker has a wealth of important players to call upon.
Gladson Awako is one of the best players on the local scene, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh secured a move to FC Zurich for good reason and Ibrahim Danlad is one of the best goalkeepers Ghana currently has to offer.
With a the right approach and effort from the players, maybe, just maybe, Ghanaians will go to sleep with smiles on their faces.
By Bill Eshun|3Sports|Ghana
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