What you need to know:
Whatever issues the Cranes might have had with form and/or confidence at any given time in the past, the Black Stars have always seemed to bring out the best in them.
Uganda vs Ghana
Togo’s escapades here should not be a cause of any misapprehension from Ghana. Far more illustrious they might be, but the Black Stars do not possess the record their lesser known West African neighbours have conjured up on Ugandan soil, on the few visits they have managed.
Whatever issues the Cranes might have had with form and/or confidence at any given time in the past, the Black Stars have always seemed to bring out the best in them. I will say more about the game in my column in tomorrow’s paper, but suffice it to say that I believe the best Ghana will manage here is a draw. And so, I go for the Home win.
Togo vs Guinea
Guinea have the more technically gifted side and, led by the dribbling wizardry of Soumah Seydouba they have the ability to hurt any team in this group, home or away, as they showed against Ghana and Uganda. But the current Togo side is in a different frame of mind from the one that lost to Guinea in Morocco on Match Day One, and what they lack in technique they have shown they make up for with sound tactics. Draw
South Africa vs Sudan
South Africa can seal qualification and go a long way in ensuring they win the group, so they have every reason to work towards completing the double on Sudan. As if there was any more motivation needed, they will also be going out to further honour the memory of the tragically and sadly fallen Senzo Mayiwa. Home win
Congo vs Nigeria
There have been quite a few other campaigns during which Nigeria have left it late before eventually qualifying by the skin of their teeth, perhaps leaving the false impression that they love doing it the hard way (because in reality nobody does). The bounce-back effort which started at home to Sudan could continue in Brazzaville. Away win
Algeria vs Ethiopia
Yacine Brahimi, Islam Slimani, Sofiane Feghouli, Nabil Bentaleb and the entire current crop have turned Algeria into my pick for best team in Africa, and even if the Ethiopians admirably operate on an overdose of self-belief, they will fall in Algiers. Home win
Malawi vs Mali
Lesotho vs Burkina Faso
Angola vs Gabon
Sierra Leone vs Ivory Coast
Because of the Ebola scourge, Sierra Leone find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to play this ‘home’ game in the country they face, the Ivory Coast. They can’t win on their own turf, so how can they expect to manage that in the Ivory Coast where their would-be visitors find themselves as hosts in a dramatic role reversal, and with the Ivoirians in a desperate situation in this tight group?
Away win & Over
Cameroon vs DR Congo
Cape Verde vs Niger
Mozambique vs Zambia
Botswana vs Tunisia
Egypt vs Senegal
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