Local Stars To Repeat Show In Niger
Ghana’s band of local Black Stars are set to defy Niger’s home advantage and press on towards Cote d’Ivoire 2009 as they dare the Nigeriens to a second leg showdown this weekend. The Stars carry a 2-0 advantage into the second leg, but confront a challenging outing from the Nigeriens who have since regrouped around the core team of SC Sahel, the team that dropped out of this year’s CAF Champions League at the preliminary stage following defeat to Ghana’s Ashantigold. And with a squad featuring hit man Eric Bekoe, and particularly Kofi Nti Boakye, Dominic Adiyiah, Ekow Benson, John Boye, Emmanuel Banahene, Tawfiq Gibrine and Wakassu Mubarak, Coach Claude Le Roy appears battle-ready for Sunday’s clash. Indeed, the 22-man squad named last week had fine-tuned strategies and partnerships in Kumasi until the weekend’s assignments for Ashantigold and Asante Kotoko interrupted the smooth preparations. With the return of Bekoe, Prince Anokye, Richard Manu, Jordan Opoku, Harrison Afful, Francis Akwafo and Mubarak to camp after the weekend’s continental club assignments for Kotoko and Ashantigold, Le Roy’s team has returned to full strength. Worries over reported skirmishes by the Nigeriens in Niamey to overturn the result might be an uncomfortable development in the wake of Ghana’s rather narrow win. Formed virtually around the squad of Sahel, the Nigeriens were hopeful of at least emulating the club side that secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Ashantigold in Niamey before losing 6-1 at Obuasi. Even then, they had scared their Ghanaian hosts when they drew level early at half time before the annihilation started in earnest. It is this scenario that has placed Ghana’s qualification on edge, requiring another vintage show away from home to cruise to the next round where bigger challenges await all countries.
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