Seven years after his 101st minute goal consigned Tunisia out of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) jointly hosted by Gabon/Equatorial Guinea, Black Stars skipper, Andre Ayew, has predicted an end of the road for the north African side when they clash in the Round 16 game at the Ismailia Stadium today, July 8.
“Tunisia will fall in Ismailia on Monday,” said 30-year-old Ayew who leads Ghana to another epoch clash in search of their seventh win over the Carthage Eagles at the continent’s most prestigious football competition.
“Football is not only about tactics, it is also about being united as a team and competing for every ball.
“We have to be smart too and I have no doubt that the boys will deliver against Tunisia and reach the quarter-finals,” the forward said at yesterday’s pre-match press conference in Ismailia.
The Black Stars remain the favourites ahead of the encounter having previously stunned the Carthage Eagles six times and drawing once. Despite this favourable statistics, Ghana coach Kwasi Appiah, will not be flattered by history and believes his side have what it takes to dispatch Tunisia.
“I believe in my team and they’ll perform well tomorrow. Football now doesn’t depend on history. We’re not the favourites after the former champions and the tournament hosts exited as well as Morocco,” Appiah said at a pre-match press conference.
The 59-year-old coach will be looking forward to a befitting birthday present from his charges from which his skipper expressed the optimism that the unity among the players in camp puts them in pole position to deliver.
Appiah has also downplayed assertions that the Black Stars are the favourites because giants have unexpectedly fallen casualty in the competition, and sees the Carthage Eagles as a strong side that cannot be taken for granted.
“Tomorrow’s match will be entertaining from both sides and Tunisia is one of the strong teams in the tournament. As you can see, in this competition there are no favourites but we’ll give our best,” Appiah said.
But Tunisia coach, Alain Giresse, is hoping to change the script for the north Africans by taking consolation in their previous four wins in a non-competitive game over the Black Stars.
Hopefully, he could replicate his 2012 victory over Ghana after he led Mali to douse Ghana’s dreams of winning bronze in the 2012 AFCON.
The 66-year-old tactician believes the Black Stars are a strong side and beating them will be difficult but he remains hopeful his side are capable of capitalising on the weak points of Ghana to reach the quarter-finals..
“Ghana is a strong and harmonious team, It has completion in most of the positions but we have analysed them well and we can work on their weak points,” Giresse said at the pre-match conference, adding that Tunisia would do everything possible to remain in the competition.
Tunisia player, Taha Yassine Khnissi, said the team would approach this game differently because they wanted to take their country to the next stage of the competition.
“We face Ghana with one aim, which is winning and qualifying and we don’t think about the group stages’ matches. Tomorrow you will see a fresh face for the national team and all the players are united to qualify the Tunisia national team,” Khnissi said.