Afcon 2021 qualifiers: Ghana ‘hopeful’ for a result against ‘tough’ South Africa – Akonnor

The Black Stars boss looks ahead to Thursday’s encounter with Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg

Ghana coach CK Akonnor is confident in his team’s ability to hold their own against South Africa in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Thursday despite a setback during their preparations.

The Black Stars are set to play as guests of Bafana Bafana in a Group C fixture in Johannesburg without a host of first team players.

Captain Andre Ayew, Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew and Arsenal midfielder Thomas Teye Partey have been ruled out of Thursday’s clash because of Covid-19-related restrictions but the likes of Ajax Amsterdam youngster Mohammed Kudus and Chelsea loanee Abdul Rahman Baba have been able to join up with the Black Stars after related earlier uncertainties. 

“At least today we are sure of the squad, everybody has come and so we have prepared adequately knowing very well the match ahead of us is a tough one, we are very very hopeful,” Akonnor said, as reported by Sportsworldghana

“In the beginning, it was difficult, whether we will be able to get them [foreign players], we didn’t know. But we were aware of the possibility that we will not go with them.

“So we prepared ourselves without them, should they come in, it will be fantastic. Without them, we have done well in those areas and we don’t have many worries.”

Unsure of the availability of his foreign-based players, Akonnor called up 32 home-based players last month to begin preparations for the upcoming games. The Black Stars are also set to face Sao Tome and Principe three days after the South Africa encounter. 

Ultimately, Ghana’s final 26-man squad for the trip to South Africa includes 11 home-based players. 

“I said from the beginning that, I’m going to give the locals the chance. I think for a long time now we have not had this number of local players,” Akonnor remarked.

“So I’m very very happy that we have been able to achieve that, not just me because the boys have also shown the qualities and need a fair chance.”

While the Ayews and Partey have not travelled for the clash with South Africa, the three players will link up with the rest of the Black Stars squad for a home tie with Sao Tome and Principe in Accra on Sunday. 

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