Group: A (Third Round)
Match: Cameroon vs Ghana
Venue: Accra Stadium
Referee: Maria RIVET (Mauritius)
Kickoff: 16:00 GMT
As the old adage goes, when two giants meet, it is the ground that suffers. This will be case when Ghana takes on Cameroon on Friday afternoon at the Accra Sports Stadium in the last round of group games for Group A at the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The Black Queens go toe-to-toe with Les Lionnes Indomptables in what is a make-or-break tie for the hosts who need nothing short of a victory or else would be saying goodbye to the tournament.
Ghana, who lost their second group against Mali on Tuesday afternoon, will come into this game needing to push themselves a notch above their usual performances in order to secure a win and a place in the last four and keep their “host and win” hopes alive.
The Black Queens, who were shocked on Tuesday by Mali, would need to be at their very best if they are to get anything from a domineering Cameroon side who have been near perfect since the start of the tournament.
The Lionesses, who convincingly beat a pale Algerian side, would be seeking to maintain their 100% record at the AWCON when they meet Ghana. The 4-time AWCON finalists made a statement of intent on Tuesday evening following up their convincing victory over Mali with another splendid performance against Algeria and would be hoping to keep up the momentum when they play Ghana in their last group game.
Cameroon have all but secured a spot in the last four and need just a point to consolidate top spot in Group A. Meanwhile, Ghana, who are in dying need of a victory to salvage their campaign, will be coming into this one as wounded Lions and will be expected to be firing on all cylinders to get the much needed victory.
Both sides are familiar foes at the AWCON as they have faced each other 8 times with 5 of those 8 previous clashes being group stage encounters and the remaining 3 being semi-final encounters.
This will be the 6th group stage between both countries and Ghana has won 4 of the 5 previous group stage meetings with Cameroon winning just one. Games between Ghana and Cameroon do not have a reputation for being a goal fest as there have been just 20 goals in the 8 previous encounters.
Three of the five group stage encounters which have ensued between the Queens and Les Lionnes Indomptables have all been won by a single goal margin. The highest score line between these two was recorded by Ghana when they defeated Cameroon 3-1 in 1998.
The last time both sides met was in the semi-finals of the 2016 AWCON where Les Lionnes Indomptables beat the Black Queens by a solitary goal to make it to the finals ahead of Ghana. Midfielder Raissa Feudjio got the only goal for the Cameroonians to earn her side the victory.
Ghana number one goalkeeper, Patricia Mantey would need a fitness test to determine her role in the must-win encounter with Cameroon. The experienced shot-stopper, apparently, has been nursing some pains since Ghana’s pre-tournament tour of Zambia and Kenya.
According to head coach Bashir Hayford, the first choice shot stopper had a knock to her hand on Tuesday and is 60% fit for the tie against Cameroon. Reserve goalkeepers Fafali Dumahisi and Grace Nana Asantewaa, are on hand to step in.
Right-back Gladys Amfobea who missed training on Wednesday is expected to be fit for the crucial game against Cameroon.
Cameroon coach Joseph Ndocko will be counting on his attacking trio of Gabrielle Onguene, Debrah Enganamouit and Ajara Njoya to be at their very best when they take on Ghana.
The trio were magnificent against Algeria as they all managed to find their way on the score sheet and Ndocko will be hoping for more of the same on Friday. Ajara Njoya, who made it two in two after scoring on Tuesday against Algeria, will be hoping to add to her tally and make a case for herself for the top scorer award.
Ghana head coach Bashir Hayford announced that preparation for the final group game has not been easy as the morale in camp has dipped significantly following the loss to Mali on Tuesday.
He said: “It has not been easy since we played our last game because the mood in camp was a sad one as the girls were in tears. In fact, we used the whole of yesterday to psyche them up and gradually they are getting better, and about 80 per cent okay. We will use today [Thursday] and tomorrow to add the remaining 20 per cent.”
Hayford remains upbeat about his side’s chances of being able to make it to the semi-final even though it seems an uphill task beating Cameroon.
The coach said: “Cameroon indeed has six points but they have also not qualified because in football anything can happen. Algeria can beat Mali and we too can beat Cameroon.”
“So, I want to urge Ghanaians not to write the girls off. I strongly believe that we will beat Cameroon tomorrow to get six points then we see what happens in the other match between Mali and Algeria,” he added.
Cameroon head coach Joseph Ndocko announced his side will not put in any special preparations for their game against the hosts. They will go through the same routines as they have used for their first two games.
“From our first game to our second game, we have improved very well and the girls have been attentive to the instructions we gave them at training. Our next game is against hosts Ghana and it will not be easy like people see it out there. This will not change how we are training and motivating the girls because we are focused the same way we did against Mali and Algeria,” said Ndocko.
He also added even though they need his side need just a point to confirm qualification to the semi-final, they shall not be complacent:
“A draw will see us through, but that will not be our vision going into the game. We are poised to end the Group Stages with a win and hopefully we can achieve that against Ghana tomorrow. We are going to give it our best shot.”