Ghana plot Benin fall in Group F opener

The Black Stars are aiming at getting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations underway with a winning start when they face Benin on Tuesday

Ghana vs Benin

Ghana have had mixed results in their opening games lately having lost two of their five opening games, but ironically they reached the final in each instance that they lost their opener (2010 1-3 defeat against Ivory Coast and in 2015 2-1 loss against Senegal).

Team news and match facts 

Ghana

This is Ghana's 22nd appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations since they made their maiden appearance in 1963. This is only bettered by Egypt and Ivory Coast with 23 and 23 appearances.

The Black Stars topped Group E of the qualifiers with nine points. They won three and lost just one game, which came against Kenya.

Ghana are boasting of players with rich experience. 

Asamoah Gyan, Kwadwo Asamoah and Andre Ayew are the remaining members of the Black Stars team that won bronze in 2008. Stephen Appiah and Richard Kingson, the Team Manager and Goalkeeper’s, respectively were their teammates.

Jonathan Mensah was with the Black Stars in 2010, while Jordan Ayew and John Boye were a core members of the Ghana team that played in the 2012 AFCON.

Ghana’s midfield is always the strongest department of the team and in this tournament, Kwesi Appiah will depend on a midfield of Mubarak Wakaso who had a good season with Deportivo Alaves in Spain and Thomas Partey who was instrumental at Atletico Madrid in the La Liga.

Partey is the player with most goals, 8 in Kwesi Appiah’s second term in charge of the Black Stars.

Kwadwo Asamoah who will be utilised in a makeshift midfield position is expected to be effective in a more attacking role.

Ghana’s preparation suffered an initial setback due to captaincy issue after Kwesi Appiah stripped Asamoah Gyan of his captaincy role.

 Gyan initially resigned from the Black Stars, but the issue was later resolved after the President of Ghana Akufo-Addo intervened and he rescinded his retirement decision.

The 34-year-old will bring his experience to bear, being Ghana’s all-time top scorer and joint greatest scorer of Ghana in the AFCON.

Ghana’s biggest worry heading into the AFCON is their attacking force. Jordan Ayew has failed to find the back of the net in series of Black Stars games which is a cause for concern.

The Black Stars poor goalscoring form was evident in their pre-AFCON preparation. Ghana couldn't win any of their two games and also failed to score any goal (lost 1-0 to Namibia and drew goalless against South Africa.

Appiah has therefore been advised to unleash Thomas Partey in a more attacking position due to his accuracy and eye for goals.

Benin 

Benin made it this far for the first time since 2010 by finishing nicely clear of Gambia and Togo in a qualifying section won by Algeria.

The Squirrels of Benin are still searching for their first win in the Africa Cup of Nations after three appearances.

They have lost eight of their nine games in the continent’s showpiece. Their best results was a 2-2 draw against Mozambique in 2010.

The late Jones Attoquayefio from Ghana was the first coach to qualify Benin for their maiden Africa Cup of Nations tournament in 2004.

Last October’s 1-0 victory against the Desert Foxes ensures the Squirrels cannot be underestimated, while a couple of warm-up wins showed their well-being.

Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie hit a hat-trick in a 3-1 triumph over Mauritania after Guinea were edged out 1-0.

Evergreen skipper Stephane Sessegnon is a familiar face from his days with PSG, Sunderland and West Brom and has 22 goals in 74 international appearances, but he is suspended from today's game due to accumulated yellow cards from the qualifiers.

Benin had a perfect pre-AFCON preparation: edged Guinea 1-0 and hammered Mauritania 3-1.

Head to head 

Ghana and Benin have played 18 games in all competitions, since 1966 when they first met.

The Black Stars have been dominant in the West African debut, having won 11, lost three and drawn four.

Their first meeting was in 1966 in a friendly game which the Black Stars won 5-2.

Ghana have never played against Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The last time they faced off was in 2017 when they settled for a 1-1 draw in an African Nations Championship (CHAN) warm-up game.

Ghana's probable line-up for Benin clash 

Richard Ofori, Andy Yiadom, Lumor Agbenyenu, John Boye, Kassim Nuhu, Mubarak Wakaso, Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew, Christian Atsu, Kwadwo Asamoah and Andre Ayew

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