History proves that it is vital for Ghana to top their 2013 Afcon group with victory over Niger at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today because coming second may spell trouble.
If the Black Stars, who are top of GroupB with four points from two matches, get a positive result against Niger they will qualify for the group stages and start a new quest of ending their 30-year wait to lift the most coveted African title. Winning the group would be a significant bonus.
That would mean a quarterfinal against Cape Verde of GroupA.
But Ghana would know from experience that topping the group matters. They have qualified for the knockout stages of a major tournament four times in the last five years but are devoid of winners’ medals around their necks.
On the three occasions they won their group they won their next match as well, twice going on to reach the semifinals while they have enjoyed an appearance in the final although they lost out to Egypt in 2010 in Cairo.
For Ghana to win tonight, they must look to stars such as captain Asamoah Gyan, Juventus’ Kwado Asamoah and FC Porto’s Christian Atsu for that inspiration, which will make them avoid South Africa.
A draw for the Black Stars will only do if the third placed DR Congo (two points) beat second placed Mali (three points). A win against rock bottom Niger (1 point) will seal the group regardless of the score line between Mali and the DR Congo.
The Black Stars’ target will be to top the group and avoid a meeting with South Africa as the home support behind Bafana Bafana plus a late pickup in form might spell the end of their Afcon dreams.