Black Meteors coach, Tanko Ibrahim, is optimistic Ghana will make it to the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament (AFCON) when they clash with Algeria in the return leg of the qualifiers at the Baba Yara Stadium on Monday.
The national under-23 side are chasing their first Olympic Games qualification since 2008, but they must overcome the AFCON hurdle in this crucial tie which could see the Algerians coming to frustrate Ghana.
Victory in their return leg guarantees them qualification to the continental competition which is slated for Morocco between June 24 and July 8.
Last Friday, Coach Tanko and his team played a 1-1 draw game in the first leg in Algeria courtesy of a sublime 50-yard volley by Abdul-Fatawu Issahaku and the Ghana gaffer is confident victory beckons with the supporters behind the team in the reverse fixture in Kumasi.
The coach, who was highly impressed by the performance of his team during the game in Algeria, was counting on the home support to enable the team to play much better and expressed the hope that it would also encourage them to take their chances.
“We went to Algeria and played well. I am now optimistic that my team will be able to play better with home support and also take their chances in the return leg in Ghana next week”.
“I am confident that we have a team that can deliver and qualify for the U23 AFCON,” Coach Tanko said in a post-match interview.
Coach Tanko missed the services of his mercurial attacker, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, during the first leg in Algeria due to the red card he received at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroun but after serving the three-match ban, the FC Zurich attacker would be available for selection.
Equally available would be Portuguese-based Sporting CP midfielder, Issahaku, whose spectacular goal handed the Black Meteors an advantage ahead of the game and Coach Tanko expressed the hope that goalkeeper Ibrahim Danlad would also come into the game with the same form he displayed when he pulled off a brilliant save to deny the Algerians from scoring from a spot kick.
The Algerian coach, Ould Ali, was not happy about his team’s performance when they showed too much respect to the Ghanaians, especially in the first half of their game, and could come up with a different game plan to Kumasi.
“We probably respected the opponent too much in the first period when he was playing low or even very low block. We caught up in the second half and even allowed ourselves the luxury of missing a penalty,” he said.
It is expected that they would come and frustrate the Black Meteors and replicate the 3-0 victory over the Black Stars during their international friendly last year.