The second leg of the World Cup qualifier between Egypt and Ghana may look like a foregone conclusion thanks to Ghana’s 6-1 aggregate advantage, but Asamoah Gyan says his players are refusing to head to Cairo in a relaxed state of mind as they attempt to book a seat on the plane to Brazil.
“Definitely, every team has weak points. I think we saw weak points in them. We’re going there to make sure we capitalise on their mistakes,” the Black Stars captain, who missed the chance to put his team into the semi-finals at South Africa 2010, told Al Jazeera ahead of Tuesday’s game.
“We go there and keep calm. We won the first game so don’t need to rush things.”
When the Africa World Cup playoffs draws were held in Cairo, most critics anticipated that Egypt would be a tough task for Ghana, with the North African country’s record as the most successful team on the continent.
A shocking result ensued when the two giants met at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana. After the first leg’s 6-1 demolition by the Black Stars, expectations from the West Africans are tremendously higher now.
In Kumasi, Ghana wanted to win the match convincingly. They needed a cushion for the return leg in what will be a heavily-guarded Air Defense stadium, but Gyan did not expect a huge scoreline when the first leg took place.
“Honestly we were not expecting six goals. We were expecting something like three goals. Six goals was massive, It was incredible,” said the Al Ain striker.
It was a performance worthy of a standing ovation, a bloated ego and a sense of overconfidence, but Gyan contends that his team is not overconfident or comfortable. They do not intend to overlook the Egyptians but to approach the game with the same intensity and desire as they did in the first leg.
“We’re always the same. We know how to prepare for games. Nobody is relaxed. We know the task ahead of us. Although we won the first game convincingly, all the players are prepared so we just go there and play our normal game,” Gyan said.
With a winning formula from the first leg, one would expect Kwesi Appiah to retain the same line up even with Kevin-Prince Boateng returning to camp after an injury that kept him out of the first leg.
With the team arriving in Cairo from Istanbul on Sunday night, their security and the safety of such big names like Boateng, Gyan, Kwadwo Asamoah, Dede Ayew, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari is taking priority since trouble marred the African Champions League final won by Al Ahly at another stadium last week.
These are top names in African football, and the most-marketable players for world governing body FIFA from the continent. The Ghana Football Association had attempted to get the match moved from Cairo due to unrest in Egypt, but FIFA and its security team led by Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba have worked to make sure that Ghana are in fact satisfied with playing there.
Though his team’s safety is just as important, Gyan is more focused on the game and will let the management side handle the rest while while he leads Ghana out onto the pitch.
“It looks like everything has been done. We’ve been 100 percent assured,” he said.
“Before we were a little bit concerned about the security, but everybody is relaxed. We’re not thinking about that.”
One thing they can almost certainly start thinking about after Tuesday – window seat, or aisle?
Follow Sulaiman Folarin on Twitter: @Sulaiman4real