It took just 90 minutes for the mood in the Ghana camp to move from sullenness to hope. The Ghana team was on their team bus from their hotel to the training grounds when news filtered in that Uganda had beaten Egypt in Kampala.
The 1-0 win meant that the Pharoahs’ progress in Group E had been temporarily halted, and suddenly, Ghana has its destiny in its hands again.
Egypt stay on six points, one behind new group leaders Uganda. Ghana remain third with a point, while Congo have no points.
But the result out east means Friday’s qualifier with Congo in Kumasi is being approached with a new outlook.
“We are indeed excited by what’s happened in that game and you can tell from the Ghana team’s final training session that the mood has noticeably lifted,” said Ghana FA Communications Director, Ibrahim Saani Daara.
It’s an observation echoed by Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan, too. “Uganda has blown the group wide open and what we need to do is to grab the chance and win every game as it comes.”
The Black Stars play the first of their double header with the central Africans at the Baba Yara Stadium on Friday, with the return leg in Brazzaville on Tuesday.
Gyan declares himself fit
Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan has declared himself fit ahead of his side’s crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier against Congo.
The skipper has had a difficult few months, with niggling injuries. But since making a recent move to Kayserispor in Turkey, things have slightly improved. And he is not countenancing any talk of him possibly sitting out Friday’s game.
“I’ve declared myself fit because I was available [for my club] in the last game, so that’s the most important thing,” Gyan told reporters after the training.
“So far as I’m on the field, that’s the important thing and I will give out my best to help the team win against Congo on Friday.
The 31-year-old is likely to partner Swansea City’s Jordan Ayew or MLS-based Kwadwo Poku atop Ghana’s attack at the Baba Yara Stadium. Ghana have been shorn of striking options since Raphael Dwamena was excused from duty on health grounds following his failed medical at Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion last week.
In his stead, the Ghana FA announced that Red Star Belgrade striker Richmond Boakye-Yiadom had been handed a late call-up. Defender John Boye was also recalled by his Turkish club, Sivasspor, following a thigh injury he sustained earlier in the week.
“As I always say, we need to win all the games [left] to make sure our World Cup dreams are on point because we cannot afford to lose points right now. We will not allow them to play and will make sure we keep the pace,” Gyan went on.
“They’re good in ball possession so we are going to make sure we avoid that [because] at the end of the day, everybody wants a win. So we’ll try our best to win tomorrow,” he added.