Ghana vs Algeria | Friday 23 January | Mongomo | 18:00
African giants Ghana and Algeria will face off, with the Black Stars looking to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Senegal. Algeria came back strong after going down 1-0 against South Africa to win their opening match 3-1.
To Win (90mins)
Ghana will be hoping to get back to winning ways against the number one ranked team in Africa - Algeria. The Black Stars went down 2-1 in their opening game against Senegal after Moussa Sow struck late in injury time to earn Senegal the victory. The substitute scored with virtually the last kick of the game, slotting in from the edge of the box to snatch all three points for the Teranga Lions. Ghana's Andre Ayew scored a first-half penalty after Everton winger Christian Atsu had been fouled, before Stoke striker Mame Biram Diouf nodded in an equaliser and Sow wrapped up the win. For Ghana, they are by no means out, but you imagine they will need at least four points from their two remaining games against Algeria and South Africa – not a simple task. The Black Stars will reflect on a number of wasted chances in the first half, and they clearly missed their captain and striker Asamoah Gyan, who continues to recover from a bout of malaria. However, Andre Ayew, brother Jordan Ayew and Christian Atsu look a lethal combination in attack and the pair will be hoping to revive their country’s chances as they look to claim their fifth Nations Cup.
Ruthless Algeria stormed back from a goal down to eventually earn a hard fought 3-1 victory against South Africa on Monday night. South Africa were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as Algeria scored three times in the final 23 minutes to secure a victory that took them top of Group C. Following a goalless first 45 minutes, South Africa deservedly took the lead six minutes into the second half as Thuso Phala scored after good work from Sibusiso Vilakazi and Tokelo Rantie. The latter then had the chance to make it two from the penalty spot, after Aissa Mandi brought down Vilakazi, but the Bournemouth striker hit the bar. Algeria’s route back into the game was fortuitous as Thulani Hlatshwayo headed into his own net from Yacine Brahimi's cross. With indecision suddenly setting in to Bafana Bafana’s play, full-back Faouzi Ghoulam smashed Algeria in front, before Islam Slimani profited from some woeful goalkeeping from Darren Keet to make it three. Algeria’s late show in Mongomo has papered over the cracks, but for 67 minutes those cracks were laid bare by an energetic and organised South Africa side. Man of the Match Faouzi Ghoulam was a constant threat down Algeria's left and unlike some of his team-mates; worked constantly. He created the chance that led to his goal all on his own and finished it expertly. Importantly for the Desert Warriors, they got the win but will need to be much better if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.
VERDICT: Draw 21/10
Algeria will be looking to cement their spot in the next round but Ghana cannot afford to drop any more points. Both sides looked vulnerable in their opening matches and will need to tighten up their back-lines. Algeria have enough quality in attack to get the win and so do Ghana. Expect a close affair with the sides tipped to cancel each other out.