The four-time African champions are in Alexandria for a make or break mission that could determine their chances of reaching the 2018 World Cup
Ghana will hope to put up a superb display against Egypt to improve their standing in Group E, when the two teams clash in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers at the Borg Al-Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Sunday.
Much of the talk from the Black Stars camp in the build-up to the game have been focused on their poor run of results thus far, after going four games without a win.
The absence of captain Asamoah Gyan and Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah seems to take some shine from the Black Stars outfit, with coach Avram Grant claiming the news could bring some excitement to the Pharaohs.
”I am sure Egypt are happy [with Gyan and Asamoah’s injury]. Imagine that they entered the game without [Mohammed] Salah and [Mohammed] Elneny and one other player, we would be also happy,” Grant had said.
However, the Black Stars will welcome back deputy captain Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew, who is hoping to make his first international appearance since June.
Ayew, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu and Samuel Tetteh are likely to be the only changes in the squad that drew goalless with Uganda last month.
Egypt have their own troubles too, as Fathi Mostafa, Mahmoud Kahraba and Ahmed Hassan Koka have been ruled out of the game due to injuries.
However, in the Pharaohs’ defensive setup, Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny will partner Mohamed Abdul Shafy, Ali Gabr and Omar Gaber to shield veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who is still in top-form at age 43.
There will be huge responsibility on Islam Gamal, who will likely keep a constant check on Ayew and Atsu, while AS Roma’s Mohamed Salah will lead the attack with support from Bassin Morsi.
Egypt coach Hector Cuper has urged his charges to go for broke.
“Everyone is in a good physical state and we only miss Mahmoud Kahraba and Ahmed Hassan Koka [for the game],” Cuper told ONSport. “It is great to have such a group of great players under your management.
“We understand the importance of the game to the Egyptians. The players are focused on getting the victory and winning the three points. We need to be calm. I want to relieve the pressure on my players, so I let them have some fun. They understand the responsibility on their shoulders and [have] shown great desire to win the game and must win,” he added.
The two countries have met 20 times, with Ghana winning on six occasions, drawing five and losing nine times. Since 2010, the Black Stars have lost only twice to Egypt and have scored 10 goals, conceding four goals.
In the other group game at the Namboole Stadium in Kampala, Uganda will host Congo on Saturday.