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Ghana protest raises temperature
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 24 - 01 - 2010

Host Angola and Ghana meet Sunday in what promises to be an electric Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal played out in front of the competition hosts' 50,000 fan base at the 11 November stadium.
The build-up has been dominated by claims from the Ghana Football Association of “intimidatory” tactics by Angolan security forces designed they say to destabilize the team.
A Ghana fan and journalist have both been subjected to assaults by Angolan police in Luanda this week, but GFA spokesman Randy Abbey insisted Ghana would not be distracted from Sunday's quarterfinal.
“Psychologically this will not affect the team,” Abbey said. “That is why the leaders of the team have decided to take up this pressure and stress and allow the players to relax and focus on the match itself.”
Ghana, which is seeking to end a 27-tear title drought, goes into Sunday's game buoyed by the return to fitness of Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan and Rosenborg midfielder Anthony Annan.
Angola coach Manuel Jose is also counting on the return to fitness of some key personnel, not least midfielder Dede and joint top scorer with three goals Flavio. Looking ahead to Sunday defender Dias Caires commented: “We're motivated and ready for Ghana. It's not going to be easy, Ghana need to be respected, but we're training and thinking only about victory.”
Ivory Coast vs. Algeria
Rusty Ivory Coast faces angry Algeria at Chiazi Stadium also Sunday with an Africa Cup of Nations semifinals place at stake.
An Ivorian ‘Elephants' squad boasting stars such as Didier Drogba and brothers Kolo and Yara Toure are fancied to defeat the star-less Algerian ‘Desert Foxes' in the second quarterfinal of the biennial African football showpiece.
Tradition also tilts toward the west Africans, who have won four of five matches at this stage while Algeria has lost all three, ahead of a game that sees two of the five African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup square off.
Ivory Coast also shade previous clashes between the countries, winning two, losing one while the 1988 clash was drawn 1-1 in Morocco where Ivory Coast suffered the agony of being ousted by a draw of lots after the first round.
But Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic has his concerns ahead of the fixture, the last of four to be staged at a new 20,000-seat stadium in this oil-rich northern enclave where a fatal pre-tournament ambush led to Togo withdrawing.
Chief among them is rustiness brought about by an eight-day gap between beating Ghana 3-1 to ultimately finish top of Group B and facing Algeria, Group A runner-up to Angola.
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane is not particularly happier either despite achieving his primary goal of qualifying for the last eight of a tournament first staged 53 years ago in Sudan. The five-time ‘Foxes' coach has been angered by negative domestic media coverage and allegations of a ‘fixed' draw with Angola.


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