Zainadine Junior of Mozambique challenge Christian Atsu of Ghana during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers ©Christian Thompson/BackpagePix
Wednesday Aug 31, 2016. 10:30
Ghana will be looking to put aside a chaotic build-up to their final 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier when they host Rwanda in Accra on Saturday afternoon.
The Black Stars are already guaranteed top spot in Group H after collecting 13 points from five unbeaten matches, and their place at Gabon 2017 is secure.
However, they come into this final match seemingly in a shambles after a battle between the country’s Sports Minister and the Football Association.
After coach Avram Grant named a strong squad for the clash, Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye claimed his portfolio had no money to pay for overseas-based players to travel, as well as accommodation for the team.
This has led to the farcical situation where many of Ghana’s foreign-based players have paid for their own travel (injured Andre Ayew has generously offered to pay for those who cannot afford the cost themselves), while the players have also reported for training from homes rather than a team hotel.
It is important that the Black Stars at least honour the fixture in order to avoid any sanction from CAF and ensure that they are free to participate both in next year’s AFCON finals and the impending start of Africa’s 2018 World Cup qualifying group stage.
As for Rwanda, they come into the match placed second on the standings with six points, though they have no mathematical chance of finishing as one of the two best runners-up, who will also qualify for the AFCON tournament.
The Black Stars claimed a narrow 1-0 win over Rwanda when the teams met in their group match in Kigali a year ago, with Mubarak Wakaso scoring a late goal to see the West Africans to victory.
Group H’s other match in the final round sees Mozambique host Mauritius in Maputo on Saturday. The game at the Accra Sports Stadium will be refereed by Cameroonian Antoine Effa.