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10.10.2008 Football News

Sekondi, Here Come Stars

Sekondi, Here Come  Stars

If massive home support is the only requirement to guarantee Ghana a place in the final round of the joint 2010 World Cup/Africa Cup qualifiers, then the Black Stars will be home and dry against Lesotho in their much-anticipated Group 5 thriller at the flamboyant Sekondi Stadium tomorrow.

From the ministerial corridors through the Metropolitan Assembly, traditional leaders, office clerks and the business class to the ordinary fan on the street, the commitment of the Western Region towards the Black Stars cause has been outstanding, leading to an anticipated sellout crowd which might eventually burden the Chinese architectural masterpiece on the outskirts of Sekondi.

As the Black Stars honour their first international assignment in decades in that territory, the zeal and enthusiasm so far displayed by the people have been extraordinary leaving none in doubt about their determination to give credence to the old saying that 'the best always comes from the west.'

Even before the Stars made their 'triumphant entry' into the twin-city of Sekondi-Takoradi on Wednesday evening, a surprise package awaited them as an official entourage led by despatch riders was long ready at Beposo to escort them to the Raybow Hotel in Takoradi.

Obviously, the 20,000 capacity stadium will burst at its seams as fans from other parts of the country are expected to join their Western Region counterparts in the stands to make the occasion memorable.

While the Basotho were expected in town yesterday, the Stars who are approaching the crucial game with cautious optimism were scheduled to have their first training session at the match venue yesterday.

Satisfied with the positive attitude of his players so far since camping began last Monday, Milovan Rajevac's preoccupation in the final stages of his preparation has been to condition his armada physically and psychologically for the task ahead.

As the Stars storm the Sekondi Stadium tomorrow, Rajevac is expected to rely on the same starting line-up of Richard Kingson, John Paintsil, Harrison Afful, Jonathan Quartey, John Mensah, Anthony Annan, Haminu Draman, Stephen Appiah, Junior Agogo, Prince Tagoe and Sulley Muntari.

That appears a solid enough squad to take the underdogs Lesotho to the slaughter and possibly finish tops ahead of current leaders, Libya, and second-placed Gabon who clash in another decisive battle in Libreville simultaneously.

The Stars, who turned Ghanaians into mathematicians immediately after losing 0-1 to Libya in Tripoli on September 5, need the maximum home points, and to some extent a good number of goals, to top the group in case Libya lose away.

For now, third-placed Ghana have nine points, same as Gabon and three points adrift of Libya, and therefore need to avoid any kind of draw at home.


 With a goal less than both Libya and Gabon, the Stars are obliged to take their destiny into their own hands by winning massively to pick the automatic ticket and spare Ghanaians any further calculations in the event of Gabon's triumph over Libya.

According to the rules, the winners of the 12 groups automatically qualify for the final round in addition to the eight best second-placed teams.

Though Ghana stands a good chance of sailing through in case of victory, it will be worth the Stars' while to do so by topping the group.

As the Stars go into this match with memories of their 3-2 first leg victory still fresh on their minds, they need no further counsel to alert them to remain focused throughout proceedings to avoid an upset from the soccer minnows from the south.

Preview by Samuel Ebo Kwaitoo