Sat, 21 May 2022

Ghana boss Milovan Rajevac on Monday cited his experiences at the Cup of Nations with Ghana in 2010 and as the head of other national teams to ease the pressure on his side ahead of their crucial Group C clash against Comoros on Tuesday .

Ghana have one point following an opening day defeat to Morocco and a draw with Gabon last Friday.

Anything less than victory at the Roumde Adija Stadium would consign the Black Stars to their first exit after the group stages since 2006.

His Comoran counterpart, Amir Abdou, acknowledged the game in Garoua was an occasion to display the development of football in a nation of less than one million souls.

"In 2010 we lost our first game 3-1 to Cote D'Ivoire," said Rajevac on the eve of his side's final game in Group C;

"But we qualified for the next stage and we got to the final.

Form

"Sometimes teams start slowly and you improve your form. I believe we have the power and the desire to do what it takes."

Since taking Ghana to the last eight at the World Cup in 2010, Rajevac, 68, has coached the Qatari, Algerian and Thai national teams.

He was reappointed head of Ghana last September.

"It is difficult to make too many comparisons between the squad I had in 2010 and the one I have now," added the Serb.

"Then I had Asamoah Gyan who was a natural finisher and it has been difficult to find someone like him again.

Changes

"It's true football changes and so do the demands of the game but the lack of time as head coach of a national side is one thing that hasn't changed ... it's very difficult to implement things in such as short space of time."

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated that faultline and disrupted preparations such as pre-tournament friendlies. Teams have lost key players to the disease just ahead of ties.

And as Rajevac was outlining his plans for overcoming Comoros, it emerged that the Gabon skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and teammate Mario Lemina will leave for tests at their respective clubs Arsenal and Nice after cardiac lesions were found during checks after they tested positive for Covid-19.

Gabon face Group C pacesetters Morocco at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde to decide who tops the pool. Morocco need a draw to advance to the last-16 as winners.

Chance

Abdou conceded his targets are far less lofty.

A victory would furnish Comoros with their first triumph at the tournament and give them a chance of moving on as one of the best third-placed teams.

"It is great to be playing a big team in this kind of situation since this is what we've been working for," said Abdou.

"We know that Ghana is a big nation and they are in a situation where they might not get into the next phase.

"We have to exploit that nervousness. It is up to us to frustrate them even if they are used to such situations.

"We must play and perform."

Form book

The form book has been ripped up and mangled during the second round of games.

In Group E , Sierra Leone drew with Cote D'Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea beat the defending champions Algeria to set up an intriguing final round of games.

"We have the mindset to win," said Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah - one of Rajevac's players during the run to the 2010 Cup of Nations final.

"But anything can happen," he added. "It's an all or nothing event against Comoros. If we win, we can progress but if we lose I don't believe it will be a disaster for our nation."

However, Ghanaians who have been yearning for a first Cup of Nations title since 1982 might not be of the same mind come Tuesday night.

Originally published on RFI

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