By Jacob Ajom
Nigeria and Ghana have a long history of rivalry, particularly when it comes to football.
From the days of Independence Games in the early 1960s when the two countries were pitched against each other in the annual event to the modern times, every match involving them is sold out.
When the Black Stars of Ghana defeated DR Congo 1-0, a day after the Super Eagles shocked the Atlas Lions of Morocco 4-3 in the most dramatic fashion, most watchers of the game, here in South Africa agreed that CHAN would witness yet another thriller because by their victories over their foes, the two West African giants will cross paths to get to the final.
The semi final fixture which comes up today in Bloemfontein, South Africa has attracted a lot of interest from the locals here who are still not pleased with the Bafana Bafana whose exit from the tournament was masterminded by the Super Eagles.
Coach Stephen Keshi has not allowed the landmark victory over Morocco to get into his players heads. ‘’I have told them to remain focused. The victory over Morocco is now history and we still have about 180 minutes to the trophy, so we cannot afford to believe that the task is over,’’ Keshi said.
He has no serious injury worries in camp and with the expected return of Solomon Kwambe, who served a one match suspension as a result of a red card and Benjamin Francis who has regained fitness after a lay off that was occasioned by an injury he sustained during the opening match against Mali, Coach Keshi has maintained faith in his winning squad.
Captain Chigozie Agbim will man the post, Azubuike Egwuekwe will lead the defence quartet of Erhun Obanor, Kumle Odunlami and Brigh Eseme.
In the midfield Abdullahin Shehu, Rabiu Ali and Ugonna Uzochukwu will hold sway while Ejike Uzoenyi will lead the attack line likely to also feature Barnabas Imenga or Gbolahan Salami (if he is fit) and highly mobile Ifeanyi Ede.
There is no doubt, the Ghanaians will be out to puncture Nigeria’s increasing thirst for trophy but the resolve and sense of determination exhibited by the Eagles here has put the Nigerians in a pole position in the opinion poll. A victory for the Eagles over Ghana will only justify the huge confidence South Africans have for a the team that achieved feats that were least expected of them.