Ghana’s quest for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations title will begin when they host Benin in their first match of the tournament. Here are the Three Keys to this fixture. Bet on AFCON here.
Black Stars solid defence v Benin’s struggling backline
Ghana’s success in the recent months has been due to their sturdy defence and this will play a key role in how they fare here. They made it through their qualifying group by winning to nil in all but one of their games, while they have kept three straight clean sheets heading into this clash. They will be facing a fairly inexperienced side and they should have enough to get the job done.
Benin are not the biggest side at the tournament and they could struggle to adapt to playing against Ghana. They have been on a fairly good run but they have struggled to keep things tight at the back. Given Ghana’s attacking talents, you can expect them to come out all guns blazing and it is not looking very good for Benin. They have seen both teams find the back of the net in three of their last four outings in all competitions and that could cost them.
Asamoah Gyan v Steve Mounie
Ghana have included their all-time top scorer, Asamoah Gyan in the squad but he is expected to play a diminished role this time around. The 33-year-old Kayserispor striker, will be expected to lead the offensive line alongside other younger strikers in the squad. He is the top African scorer in World Cup history with six goals and his desire to help Ghana in his last major tournament should count for something.
Despite his failed season with Huddersfield in the Premier League, Steve Mounié has been impressive when playing for the national team. The 24-year-old scored a hat-trick for Benin in their 3-1 win against Mauritania in the last friendly fixture and Mounié will be keen to impress on his their opening match against the Black Stars.
Ghana’s big names v Benin’s team spirit
Ghana are one of Africa’s footballing giants and a number of their squad members play for big European clubs. The Ayew brothers remain a major influence on the side, while Thomas Partey in midfield is a highly rated box-to-box player. Christian Atsu and Jonathan Mensah are all in their prime and the question that begs is; will that blend of experience and talent take them all the way?
Benin, on the other hand, have done well to get to this stage despite not having names which jump out from their squad. They booked their place at AFCON following three home wins, while they took one point on the road and scored only one goal. Their main strength has been their ability to organize properly as a team and they will be hoping that they can out organize Ghana here.