The winner of each group will compete in the 2006 Germany World Cup, while the top three in each group qualify for the 2006 African Cup Of Nations. At present, teams equal on points are separated by goal difference and then the number of goals scored. A bit of an explanation here; goal difference, total number of goals scored minus total number of goals conceded, and then total number of goals scored in general. So therefore, if team A has a goal difference of 0, having scored for example 2 goals and conceded 2 goals, and team B has a goal difference of the same 0, having scored 3 goals and conceded 3 goals, team B qualifies at the expense of team A through the total number of goals scored advantage. However, in the final tables according to the FIFA regulations, if teams have the same number of points, then the head-to-head record between the two sides is taken into account before goal difference!. So if South Africa, who are still the only threat to Ghana, wins their last two matches with 'thousand' goals and Ghana wins their last two matches with just a goal in each match, Ghana will be at the World Cup for the first time.
In drawing home these points, one might hasten to ask that which of the two teams has the toughest opposition in the last two matches left, by virtue of the fact that they have already played each other in the two home and away encounters. South Africa play against Burkina Faso away, and then honours their last match at home against troublesome Congo DR. On the other hand, Ghana play against less-fancied Uganda at home first, before accounting for Cape Verde in an away encounter. Even though, almost everybody has written off Congo DR as regards their chances of qualifying, they still can pull up a surprise via the 'tackling from behind' method. In football, you don't have to expect so much, that is why the ordinary man on the street would say, football does not follow logic.
OUR WEAK POINTS
Ghanaians would think that it will be that easy to win the two matches hands down. Maybe they have forgotten that the only team to have beaten Cape Verde in their home country so far in the campaign is South Africa. And it does not mean logically that so long as South Africa have beaten Cape Verde home and away, and Ghana have also beaten South Africa home and away, Ghanaians should think that Ghana can beat Cape Verde home and away. This is football. Have we done our homework well?. Are the 'boys' well-motivated and self-motivated to clinch the unclinchable?. Are all the players, I mean the 'Demolition Squad' ready to confront nature and defy all odds to write their names in gold in the history of Ghana football?. Are all the stakeholders: the ministry, the football association, the technical team, the players, the supporters,the sponsors and the entire nation ready to help Ghana secure a safe berth and a maiden appearance at the world's biggest soccer fiesta?. Tellingly, between the two teams, Ghana seems to have a slight edge over South Africa by playing their penultimate match against the bottom-placed team in the group, Uganda in Kumasi, whilst South Africa have an uphill task of derailing the Burkinabes of any chance of qualifying for the 2006 Nations Cup. In asmuch as I believe that anything can happen in football, let us not look sight of how Rwanda booted out Ghana when we needed just an away draw to qualify for the 2004 Nations Cup. And maybe we have not as yet written off the history of how a slip against Burundi in Bujumbura cost us so much in the 1998 World Cup elimination series.
OUR STRONG POINTS
A loss at home to South Africa means Burkina Faso will not be represented at the continental fiesta. They cannot afford to miss out on the zion train to Egypt especially when they have been there on six consecutive occasions spanning over a decade. So the best they could do here is to appease their football loving fans by giving them a befitting ticket to the Nations Cup, after having realised that the ship is sinking, and they need to forget about the captain's wife and think about the sinking ship.
Interestingly, South Africa faces one of the toughest opponents in the group, Congo DR in their last match at home in South Africa, and the Congolese are bent on pulling another surprise to see if it is possible at all to be at the World Cup. Comparing the chances of the two teams, Ghana and South Africa, the former seems to have an upperhand towards qualification, a clinically-proven clear-cut chance on the grounds of the kind of opposition they face in their last two matches. Ghana can boast beyond reproach of having the two weapons of modern-day football in the qualifying series:attack and defence, having scored the highest number of goals and conceding the least as compared to all the other teams in the group including our direct opponents, South Africa. Throughout the whole qualifiers at the group stages, Ghana and Nigeria have the best defence by virtue of conceding only only four goals each in all their matches played so far.
In the match against Uganda, I know all Ghanaians cannot afford to lose that match, and I am looking forward to see the heaviest attendance ever in a single football match in Ghana. No free gates here, we need money to pay the boys.
If the 20 million and counting population would want to watch their team play in the World Cup live, via GTV,TV3,Metro TV or TV Africa, then all hands must be on deck right from the least in society to the highly-privileged, from the top to the bottom, from outside the field to the playing field, the ministry, the football association, the sponsors and other corporate bodies,from today till the match day, from the presidency to the ordinary supporter, and I believe Abraham Boakye, the One-Man Supporter is listening to me here. He has done tremendously well for amassing overwhelming support for the national teams wherever they play.
Football has the power to create unity out of division, joy from sadness and bring welcome respite from a continent bursting with life but burdened by problems. That is why I heard recently in Ghana that the strikes by teachers and nurses over salary increase after the Black Stars victory did little or no harm to the economy. To the boys once again, I say kudos!. The heat is still on, until the last person dies. It's now or never. No more fresh memories of the Burundi-Rwanda cut -offs. We are going to the WORLD CUP for sure, and I bet you, only God can stop us now!. The Ugandans and the Cape Verdes, watch out. No mercy for the cripple, not even the criminal law, as my good friend and brother in the United States, and once a national athlete for Ghana, Mark Anthony Awere would say.
I will be back! Kofi Asare Brako, a.k.a. ABATAY Virginia, U.S.A. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.