Don't be complacent, Ghana warned by manager Le Roy
Thursday 24 January 2008
The hosts, Ghana, could qualify for the African Nations Cup quarter-finals as early as today if they beat Namibia in their second group game.
A second successive win here would put Ghana on six points and assure them of a place in the knock-out stages if Guinea fail to win the other Group A game against Morocco. The matches constitute a double-header at the Ohene Djan stadium.
Ghana are strong favourites to beat Namibia, whose defensive frailties were exposed in a five-goal rout by Morocco on Monday. However, the Ghana coach Claude Le Roy fears his team could come unstuck because of complacency.
"When we played against Brazil and Nigeria last year we played superbly but we tend to lose focus against the smaller teams because we underrate them," he said.
Ghana snatched a last-gasp goal to beat Guinea 2-1 in Sunday's opening game to ensure a winning start to their tournament. Morocco beat Namibia 5-1 in the second Group A game on Monday and a win over Guinea will probably put them through. Hat-trick hero Soufiane Alloudi is doubtful because of a knee injury, although team officials on Tuesday said they were unsure of the severity of the problem.
Ghana may also have to reshuffle their defence. Key centre-back John Mensah and his partner John Paintsil are both doubtful, while Shilla Illiasu has yet to recover from the ankle injury that kept him out of the Guinea game.
Paintsil suffered concussion in that game – of which he remembered little, eventually being carried off on a stretcher in the final minute. He was later to taken to hospital for observation but released.
Mensah did not train as he nursed a thigh strain and Paintsil was still being monitored by the Black Stars' medical team yesterday.
Guinea, who were within a minute of snatching a draw, now effectively need to beat Morocco to keep their hopes alive. "I was not disappointed with the defeat but the way we lost," their coach Robert Nouzaret said.
Namibia, meanwhile, sought to put on a brave face after their mauling in only their second appearance at a Nations Cup. "We have to keep our heads up and focus. We need to motivate ourselves to take on Ghana," their captain Michael Pienaar said.
Meanwhile, the Reading manager Steve Coppell is hoping his African players fall at the first hurdle.
Coppell has Senegal's Ibrahima Sonko, Cameroon's Andre Bikey and Emerse Fae from the Ivory Coast away.
He said: "We've got the lads away in the Nations Cup, and let's just wish them back early. I'd rather they were knocked out in the groups!"
Today at the Nations Cup
Guinea v Morocco, 17.00, Accra. Live on Eurosport and BBC i.
Ghana v Namibia, 19.30, Accra. Live on Eurosport and BBC i.
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