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19.01.2010 Cup of Nations

Limping Ghana set for crucial Nations Cup test

Ghana is under pressure to winGhana is under pressure to win
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Ghana's hopes of progressing past the group stages have taken a massive blow following the news of Michael Essien's knee injury in training on Sunday.

He has been forced to pull out of the competition and will not feature in the must-win game against Burkina Faso.

Anthony Annan is still a doubt after missing Ghana's opening game and Rahim Ayew pulled up in Monday's training and had an ice pack on his knee.

Defender Eric Addo failed to train on Monday because of a malaria attack.

In contrast, Burkino Faso have no injury worries ahead of the tie.

A draw for the Burkinabe would see them through to the knock-out stages.

Essien's team-mates acknowledged that his absence will leave them severely weakened in midfield.

"This is a big blow because Michael is so important to our team," Ghanaian striker Matthew Amoah told BBC Sport.

"We've lost the motor in our midfield, and this is very bad."

Essien joined his team mates in Angola late following a hamstring injury, and only came on as a second-half substitute in Ghana's 3-1 loss to Ivory Coast.

During training on Sunday, he twisted his knee, with scans showing he is suffering from a partially torn medial ligament in his left knee.

In one of the many early surprises in the competition, Burkina Faso held Ivory Coast to a 0-0 draw in the opening game of Group B.

Needing just a draw to qualify to the knock-out stages for the second time in their history, coach Duarte is likely to adopt the same defensive set-up which held the Ivorians.

"That goalless draw has allowed us to start thinking of qualifying for the last eight," he said.

"Now we have to take on another World Cup qualifier in Ghana, but my team has the ability to put up a good performance."

His side have no injury concerns ahead of the game.

Teams in Group B have only played two games each due to the departure of Togo following deadly attacks on the team bus.

Ghana probable line-up - Richard Kingson, Samuel Inkoom, Hans Sarpei, Isaac Vorsah, Lee Addy, Agyemang Badu, Haminu Dramani, Kwadwo Asamoah, Matthew Amoah, Asamoah Gyan, Dede Ayew.  

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