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Ghana shape up for Ethiopia in Nairobi

Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan and striker Andre Ayew train at the Utalii Grounds in Nairobi on November 14, 2018 ahead of their AFCON qualifier against Ethiopia.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 15 – Ghana’s Black Stars have pitched camp in Nairobi ahead of their crucial 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifier against Ethiopia’s Walia Ibex on Sunday at the Addis Ababa Stadium in the Capital.

The Ghanaians trained at the Utalii Complex on Wednesday evening and on Thursday had another session at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani, as head coach Kwesi Appiah shapes up his side for the crucial tie.

Kenya has been like home for us and we feel more comfortable here probably because it is an English-speaking country and the people here are nice. Anytime we come here they accept us we feel more comfortable here and the players also love it here,” Appiah said on his side’s decision to train in Nairobi.

Ghana face a must win tie against the Walias as they currently sit third in Group F standings with three points, one behind second placed Ethiopia and four behind leaders Kenya who beat them 1-0 in Kasarani in September.

A loss against Ethiopia will put their AFCON dreams in jeopardy and hence head coach Appiah has said they will take the match with utmost seriousness.

Appiah has called in a strong squad, only maintaining four players that featured against Kenya and he was only short of admitting the rest did not win his trust.

In his squad for Ethiopia, Appiah has included captain Asamoah Gyan and the Ayew brothers who were absent in the 1-0 loss to Kenya.

The tactician says it was about time he fields his strongest side.

“The situation was that I don’t want to rely on only a few players. I want a situation where we can enlarge the group but when the going gets tough and you want to finish the job early, you have to come with your best,” Appiah said.

He added; “They (Ayew brothers and Gyan) are key players in our team and anytime the going is tough or you need best players, automatically you need to call them to finish the job.”

Ghanaian head coach Kwesi Appiah before a training session when they played Kenya at the Kasarani Stadium in September 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The Group is currently standing in the middle of a jungle with CAF yet to make it clear whether Sierra Leone will be reinstated in the qualifiers or not. Sierra Leone have not played two matches in the qualifiers; home and away to Ghana and will also not play Kenya this weekend.

If Sierra Leone will not be reinstated, Ghana will only need a point against Ethiopia to assure themselves of a place in Cameroon

Appiah though says his side is not distracted by the uncertainty saying they will concentrate on their job on the pitch.

“It has not had so much effect on us because we were 100pc prepared for them. Unfortunately they could not turn up and we don’t know what the CAF decision is. We are only looking at what is in our hands and that is Ethiopia and Kenya and to win the games,” Appiah commented.

Looking forward to the wounded Ethiopia who were beaten 3-0 by Kenya, Appiah does not expect an easy game, but notes his team will be going out full attack.

“This is a very important game for us because we want to finish the qualification job early. We are going there to play our best and make sure our attack is working. We are not going to defend anything. We are not the kind of team to do that,” the coach said.

The team is expected to leave the country later Friday for Addis Ababa.

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