Madagascar and Ghana are set to face off in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Mahamasina Municipal Stadium on Sunday, marking their return to action.
Nicolas Dupuis’ Madagascar team has struggled to secure a victory in their four qualifying matches and currently finds themselves at the bottom of Group E. They began their campaign in June 2022 with a 3-0 defeat against Ghana.
Their hopes of a win were dashed again when they were held to a 1-1 draw against Angola. Despite putting up a fight, back-to-back losses to Central African Republic further dimmed their chances of qualifying. Madagascar now sits five points behind third-placed Angola, effectively ending their dreams of a return to the AFCON since 2019.
In contrast, Ghana has had an unbeaten run in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and is on the verge of securing their ninth consecutive appearance in the tournament. After comfortably defeating Madagascar in their opening group match, the Black Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by Central African Republic.
Following their AFCON campaign, where they exited at the group stage, they returned to the qualifiers with a 1-0 win over Angola and a 1-1 draw against them. With eight points, Ghana currently tops Group G, one point ahead of second-placed Central African Republic. They aim to continue their streak and secure qualification for the continental showpiece.
Madagascar’s newly-appointed manager, Romuald Rakotondrabe, has assembled a 29-man squad that includes their domestic league’s leading scorers, Toky Rakotondraibe and Tokiniaina Randriatsiferana.
However, Thailand-based striker Njiva Rakotoharimalala has been dropped due to injury, and Carolus Andriamahitsinoro has been called up as a replacement.
Madagascar possible starting lineup:
Adrien; Bertrand, Boyer, Manoelantsoa, Metanire; Amada, Rakotoarisoa, Andrianarimanana, Rafanomezantsoa; Rakotondraibe, Randriatsiferana
On the Ghanaian side, injuries have ruled out players like Tariq Lamptey, Antoine Semenyo, and Mohammed Salisu. Midfielder Thomas Partey is expected to provide stability, while Mohammed Kudus, Jordan Ayew, and Joseph Paintsil are likely to lead the attacking line.
Striker Hafiz Konkoni, who had an impressive 15-goal season in the betPawa Premier League, will also be vying for a starting position. Defensively, Joseph Aidoo and Daniel Amartey are anticipated to form the center-back partnership.
Ghana possible starting lineup:
Ati; Odoi, Amartey, Aidoo, Mensah; Partey, Samed; Sulemana, Paintsil, Kudus, J. Ayew.
Both teams will be eager to secure a positive result in this crucial qualifier as they aim to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations.