1 February 2013

Cape Verde/Ghana: Black Stars Cautious Over Clash With Giant-Killers

Photo: Luigi Bennett/Backpagepix
Fernando Varela of Cape Verde scores with a header, helping his team make history by qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals in their first Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Ghana will start as overwhelming favourites to beat the minnows from Cape Verde when they meet in the African Nations Cup quarter-finals on Saturday but will be wary of being added to a growing list of upset scalps at the tournament.

The Black Stars are seeking to reach the semi-finals for a fourth successive tournament after finishing top of Group B, which means they stay in Port Elizabeth for the first of the weekend's quarter-final games.

Up against them is a side who would not in their wildest dreams have considered themselves potential semi-finalists at the Nations Cup even a mere six months ago.

But after their upset win over Cameroon in their qualifiers and finishing second in Group A, undefeated against both Morocco and South Africa and after beating Angola, they find themselves already the toast of the tournament.

Whether they can keep up the giant-killing run remains to be seen. Ghana have by far the better armoury and experience in this competition.

But their coach Kwesi Appiah is insisting on circumspection, claiming the islanders are a dangerous proposition for his Black Stars because they have nothing to lose.

"I would prefer to meet Ivory Coast (rather) than Cape Verde because they are not under pressure. Cape Verde is a physical side and they are tactically disciplined as well," the former Black Stars player said.

"We have to prepare ourselves very well to match them...I respect them and we cannot afford to underrate them because any team who qualified for this tournament are good and cannot be underrated. We have to work hard to go past them."

The Ghanaians could ask fellow West Africans Cameroon about that. The Indomitable Lions were knocked out of qualifying by Cape Verde over two legs.

Ghana did beat the Blue Sharks 1-0 in a warm-up match before the competition began but Appiah said the results of friendly games did not really matter.

"What is important in such games is the tactical behaviour of your team," said the former international defender.

On Friday, Cape Verde's coach Lucio Antuness said of his side: "We are very serious. We are a serious team and we have grown in confidence since the tournament started. We are stronger.

"We are a good team with ambitious players and there is no reason why we cannot beat Ghana, I think we can. I think we can get through to the semi-finals. When you are in the tournament you have to think you are going to win it, and why not?"

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