The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has confirmed that Ghana’s contingent has arrived safely in Abuja for the 2nd leg of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 play-off tie against Nigeria. The Black Stars team which departed the Kumasi Airport around 11:30am touched down at 13:30 pm Nigerian time.
Coach Otto Addo’s men are expected to train at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, at 17:00 GMT. With the exception of Edmund Addo who missed the 1st leg due to injury, all the 26 invited players made the trip to Nigeria.
The Black Stars of Ghana and the Super Eagles of Nigeria played a goalless draw in the first leg at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi last Friday, setting the stage for another epic showdown in Abuja.
There were few chances in the first leg game but the atmosphere made the contest more exciting and exhilarating as Ghana returned to the Baba Yara Sports Stadium for the first time since 2014. The team looked poised for a first-leg win but the Black Stars couldn’t take their chances in front of a partisan crowd.
The closely-matched contest between two of the exciting football nations on the continent failed to produce goals as both technical benches played to a well-rehearsed pattern.
Felix Afena Ohene-Gyan was twice denied by Francis Uzoho before denying Abdul Fatawu Issahaku with a stunning stop from a well-taken thunderous strike.
Late in the game, Nigeria forward, Moses Simon, was rebuffed twice by Ghana goalkeeper Joseph Wolacott as the teams met in a World Cup clash for the first time since 2001. Nigeria later had two chances in quick succession as Joe Aribo had a fine chance to give the Super Eagles the lead but couldn’t. Victor Osimhen also failed to make his opportunity count in the game.
Nigeria thought it had earned a penalty in the 75th minute after Idrissu Baba handled the ball in the box but the referee overturned his initial verdict after consulting the VAR.
Pressure to be on Nigeria in Abuja
Meanwhile, Ghana coach Otto Addo said Nigeria’s inability to score in Kumasi in the first leg of the 2022 World Cup playoff could be the decisive factor in the return leg on Tuesday. The former Black Stars winger said the Super Eagles will be forced to come out in search of goals in Abuja which could help the Ghanaians to also attack.
Coach Addo was delighted with his players’ display in the match even though they could not score in the home game. “I think the guys did well but under these circumstances, I can say they followed the plan and even though we made some mistakes, they stuck to the plan. We had good positions and good runs”, Addo said in the post-match press conference.
“We had good positions, good runs. We created some chances and controlled the game in the first 30 minutes and there were some breaks and some fatigue. We couldn’t press like we would have wanted to, but in all, it was a deserved draw”.Otto Addo
The game is scheduled to kick off in Abuja on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at exactly 17:00 GMT with the winner picking one of the five slots available for Africa. Both teams are hopeful to book the ticket to Qatar in November this year.
Below is the full squad list for the crucial encounter
Goalkeepers: Lawrence Ati Zigi, Joseph Wollacot, Nurudeen Manaf, Richard Ofori
Defenders: Dennis Odoi, Gideon Mensah, Andy Yiadom, Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Joseph Aidoo, Montari Kamaheni, Mumin Suleman, Dennis Korsah
Midfielders: Idrissu Baba, Mohammed Kudus, Elisha Owusu, Thomas Partey, Daniel Kofi Kyereh
Wingers/Strikers: Felix Afena Gyan, Jordan Ayew, Christopher Antwi Adjei, Issahaku Abdul Fatawu, Kwasi Okyere Wreidt, Osman Bukari, Yaw Yeboah, Joseph Paintsil.