The 2019 AFCON continues today with the last two games in the Round of 16 in Suez and Ismailia.
Ghana vs Tunisia (Ismailia Stadium, 20:00 CAT)
Four time winners Ghana will take on 2004 winners Tunisia in Ismailia in a quest for a place in the last eight.
The Black Stars qualified as group winners of Group F after a surprise 2-2 draw with Benin, they also drew with Cameroon 0-0 before seeing off Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in the final group stage game.
Ghana who are playing the AFCON for the 22nd time after making their debut in 1963 are currently ranked 50th on the FIFA rankings only second to Senegal in the continent.
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia are in the round of 16 but they have not been convincing in the tournament after three disappointing draws from Group E with some terrible goalkeeping errors from Farouk Ben Mustapha and Mouez Hacen.
Tunisia are playing the AFCON for the 19th time and are in their 14th consecutive appearance in the tournament after making their debut in 1962 in Ethiopia.
Ghana against Tunisia is an AFCON classic as both teams will be meeting for the eighth time in the tournament. Their first ever meeting was on November 24, 1963 in Accra and finished in a 1-1 draw, that’s the only time Tunisia has avoided defeat in their previous seven meetings.
“We’re not the favourites after the former champions and the tournament hosts exited as well as Morocco,” said Ghana head coach James Kwesi Appiah.
“As you see in this competition, there are no favourites but we’ll give our best to continue. My players are prepared both mentally and physically for the game on Monday,” Appiah added
The Tunisian coach Alain Giress knows that his team struggled in the group stage and they will have to do better against a Ghanaian team that is growing into a competition already full of surprises with the eliminations of Cameroon, Egypt and Morocco.
“Egypt and Morocco’s exits are a huge surprise and we will give everything to continue in the tournament,” Giress told reporters.
“Ghana are a strong and harmonious team. They are complete in most of the positions, but we analysed them well and we can work on their weak points,” he added.
Four time winners Ghana have won only two of their last six AFCON games (D3, L1) after winning six of their previous seven and drawn one.
Ghana have been eliminated in seven of their last 11 games in the knockout phase of the AFCON, after qualifying in five of their previous seven.
The Ayew brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew have scored three of Ghana’s four goals in the this tournament, with Jordan also getting assist in Andre’s goal against Benin.
Tunisia have been eliminated in their past five knockout games in the Africa Cup of Nations, their last success beyond the group phase being the 2004 final 2-1 against Morocco, when the hosted and won the tournament.
In this game of champions, the Black Stars are favourites to win. It’s been a long wait of 27 years for Sampson Lamptey, Haruna Yusif, George Alhassan, Samuel Opoku Nti, Emmanuel Quarshie, Abedi Pele…Ghana’s 1982 AFCON winning heroes. They have played the semi-finals and lost two finals in the last six editions of the AFCON but to end their 27 years wait for continental glory and add that elusive fifth star to their shirt starts with a win against Tunisia today.
Players to Watch
Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia)
Position: Forward Club: Saint Etienne Age: 28
Tunisia’s front line has been misfiring in this tournament with Youssef Msakni and Niam Sliti playing far below their potential. Wahbi Khazri has managed a goal in the two they have scored so far with Msakni scoring the other, but he has been their most potent goal threat and has proven to be a dead-ball specialist after that superb free-kick against Mali. He will be the man to watch in this Tunisian team.
Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
Position: Forward Club: Crystal Palace Age: 27
With the risk of Andre Ayew missing this game due to injury, the focus and attention should be turned to his brother Jordan Ayew. He scored his 16th goal in 55 caps with that well taken goal against Guinea-Bissau which helped them emerge as Group F winners. He is Ghana’s in-form goal getter in the tournament with two of the four goals so far in the tournament.