Ghana will put their 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations dreams on the line when they face Niger in the second semfinal on Thursday. The clash is slated for the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, with kick-off at 18h00 local time.
Ghana topped Group A – despite losing their last match to Nigeria on Monday – and come into this semi as the clear tournament favourites. Maxwell Konadu’s side are the hosts and reigning champions, meaning expectations are high, but their defeat to the Super Eagles may have been just the wake-up call they needed.
“I think the game against Nigeria was a difficult one, but all the same I have to congratulate the boys for what they did even though we lost game, they played through a lot of difficulties,” said Konadu.
“We have to congratulate Nigeria, they took their chances and played very well. It was a day, nothing really worked for us. We will go back, rest well and recover for Thursday and the semifinal.”
Niger had a roller coaster ride to qualify from Group B, particularly in their last match: they lost 2-1 to Benin on Tuesday night in a game where they held the lead, had two men sent off in the first half, had to put an outfield player in goal and lost the game by conceding in the dying minutes!
Yet despite all that drama, they still qualified for the final four, edging ahead of Senegal on head-to-head results (the Menas beat the Teranga Lions 2-1 last Friday) to join group winners Benin in the semis.
Quite what Niger will do in terms of their goalkeeping crisis remains to be seen: first-choice Daouda Kassaly was injured against the Squirrels, while his replacement Mainassara Yahaya lasted just five minutes before receiving a straight red card – both are presumably unavailable for the match against Ghana.
The winner of this semifinal will face either Benin or Nigeria in the final on Sunday, while the loser will play in the third-place playoff on Saturday.
Ghana and Niger have met in 11 previous matches, according to FIFA statistics. The Black Stars boast an unbeaten record (10 wins, one draw) and have outscored their opponents 38 goals to four in the process.
Ghana v Niger, head-to-head
Matches played 11
Ghana wins 10
Niger wins 0
Ghana goals 38
Niger goals 4