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27.03.2007 Football News

Tough, But Stars Will Survive

With Brazil rediscovering their magical form, and Ghana without two key players, this evening's clash of the two sides in Stockholm, Sweden — a replay of last year's second round clash in the FIFA World Cup — seems heavily tilted in favour of the four times world champions.

While the Black Stars, without their talisman and inspirational captain, Stephen Appiah, and influential midfielder, Michael Essien, due to injuries had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Austria, Brazil showed no mercy on Chile, beating them 4-0 in their friendly.

These and the fact that the Brazilian squad is full of more talented players comparatively have sent some shivers down the spines of most fans of the Black Stars, with some even suggesting that the Stars pull out of the game.

However, with no serious activity for the Stars as they prepare to host the 2008 African Cup of Nations, this exercise could prove very important for the technical bench, thus being worth honouring, even if it is at half strength.

Aside giving French coach Claude Le Roy the chance to try options available to him, it would also give him the chance to practise what he is likely to do if faced with the same dilema in a real competitive situation.

Though the Stars had to struggle for the greater part to draw even with Austria, the absence of Essien and Appiah was not felt that much even though they could have enhanced their performance.

Tonight, Le Roy may have to hatch a plot that will stop the Brazilians right from midfield and on the flanks.

Failure to do that and commit the same mistakes as happened in the World Cup clash could be bad for the Stars who are eager to seek some amount of revenge.

The return of Laryea Kingson will bring some life into the midfield, and the back four with Hans Adu Sarpei as the new inclusion must by now know what to do to stop the top marksmen of Brazil which include Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaka.

The Brazilian squad has not changed much from the one that played in Germany last year, even though their performance has changed slightly and there aren't Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo in the team.

On the other hand, there has been some changes in the Stars squad with new faces like Eric Addo, Francis Dickoh and Michael Helegbe who did not fare badly against Austria while the technical heads have also changed with Dunga replacing Alberto Parreira and Le Roy taking over from Ratomir Dujkovic.

With both sides striving to be among the best in the world, especially Brazil, fighting to reclaim the top spot in FIFA rankings, this match will be as much of a tactical play as it will be a psychologial battle for both sides.

It will be no surprise if Brazil win again tonight, but there is the likelihood of the unsung heroes of the Stars holding the Samba Stars.

It may even sound a wishful thought for the faint-hearted, but they could surprise the football world with a win. With Le Roy in charge and football being what it is, that is possible.

Story by Rosalind Amoh