Preview: Focused on beating Uganda to lift U20 AFCON trophy

7 months ago

The Black Satellites will have only one mission on their minds when they walk out of the dressing room of the Stade Olympique de Nouakchott on Saturday March 6, 2021, to conquer Africa once again.

Coach Abdul Karim Zito have set for themselves the target of beating Uganda to lift the 2021 Africa U20 Cup of Nations on the day Ghana is celebrating its 64th Independence anniversary.

It’s been twelve years since Ghana lifted the Africa title and the current generation insist that Saturday’s final offers them the perfect opportunity to add their names to the history of the country when it comes to this competition.

Having qualified to the competition after winning the WAFU ‘B’ qualification tournament in Benin, Ghana began its campaign on a positive note with a 4-0 win over Tanzania before being held to a goalless draw in the second game against Benin.

The National U20 team were however stunned by Gambia in the final group game which Ghana lost 1-2 at the Stade de Nouadhibou it played its Group matches.

That defeat served as an awakening call for the team as they qualified only as one of the best third-placed teams to the quarter finals and defied all odds to defeat Group A Cameroon 4-2 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 at extra time.

Coach Zito’s side went on to avenge the defeat they suffered to the Gambians and pipped them by a lone goal to sail through to the finals against a Ugandan side which has also been resilient throughout the competition.

The Ugandans finished second in Group A with victories over tournament hosts Mauritania and Mozambique and a defeat to Cameroon.

The Hippos also beat Burkina Faso in the quarter finals via penalty shoot outs before their 4-1 emphatic win over Tunisia in the semis.

Though the Ugandans are debutants at this competition, Coach Zito says his side will come into the game well prepared and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that Ghana wins the tournament.

“For Uganda to beat Tunisia 4-1 shows that they cannot be taken for granted. We are coming into the game with all seriousness. No one came into this tournament due to their previous records or name of their country. We all made it to this stage of the competition on merit. Their game against Tunisia has given us heads up to come into the final match fully prepared”, the Black Satellites head coach stated during the pre-match press conference.

For Coach Zito, there no longer minnows in African football considering the invested countries are making in football development across the country.

Nonetheless the head coach says his team is not under pressure going into the final match, adding that the team is fully on course in achieving its objectives.

“The pressure was to make it into the last four even though we know the World Cup won’t be staged this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have achieved one of our objectives so it takes some of the pressure off us.

“Once there’s something to play for as in the trophy, it is the motivating factor for us. Am not underrating the Ugandans but we are not under pressure going into the game”, Coach Zito insisted.

Rather, the Black Satellites have placed on themselves the responsibility to deliver the trophy as a gift on Ghana’s Independence Day.

Speaking ahead of the game Coach Zito reiterated the team’s desire to achieve this feat on the such a special day for all Ghanaians.

“We are keen to winning this trophy because the match will be played on Ghana Independence day. We are privileged to represent our nation here and in thanking our country we have to win this trophy and present to our President Nana  Akufo-Addo.

“He sent us to represent the country and it’s a must to win tomorrow to show him that we have achieved the task he gave us.

Midfielder Emmanuel Agyeman Badu who was also at the press conference also echoed the comments of Coach Zito and added that the team is determined to write their names in the history of the Ghana and in this competition.

“We know that the likes of Dede Ayew made history for Ghana, but we are not relying on that. It is time for us in the current team to also write our names in the history of Ghana”.

“We are here for the ultimate and the greatest motivation is that we are playing on the day that Ghana is celebrating its independence. The attitude and motivation we come into the game with is very different because we want to win it for our motherland”, the wing-attacker asserted.

Ghana forward Percious Boah is hoping to add to his three goal tally to beat Uganda's Derrick Kakooza to the goalden boot. The Hippos striker is currently on five goals after scoring three against Tunisia.

Goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim is however well on course to win the goalkeeper of the tournament having conceded three goals with his impressive saves throughout the competition.

Referee for the match is Abdelaziz Bouh from Mauritania with his compatriot Hamedine Diba as Assistant Referee I and Abbes Akram Zerhouni from Algeria as Assistant Referee II.

Ngwa Blaise Yuven from Cameroon is the Fourth Official) and Chedad from Mauritania Assistant Referee III/VAR.Wajdi Aouadi from Tunisia will serve as the match Commissioner.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 8:00pm GMT.