The Sudanese national football team nicknamed Desert Warriors, zoomed into Kumasi last Thursday with high hopes to fly high over the Black Stars in a Nations Cup qualifier tomorrow.
But it appears they have a mountain task as the arrival of the Black Stars in Kumasi has changed the politically-dominated climate in the city to an all-football affair since Thursday, with high hopes that the team will cruise on the back of the massive support they are expected to enjoy tomorrow.
So tumultuous was the welcome from the Kumasi Airport to the Royal Lamerta Hotel at Ahodwo, and if the impressive attendance at the first training of the team was anything to go by, then Kumasi appears ready to push the team to go a step further.
The issue of unpaid bonuses for the players has been settled, and their confidence seems to have reached the apogee ahead of the match.
For Coach Kwasi Appiah, the match also represents a personal challenge, especially where arguments for a local coach for the Black Stars rage on.
In their first training match at the Baba Yara Stadium just hours after their arrival in Kumasi, the Black Stars fired in 10 goals and conceded two against Ashanti Regional division two side, State Envoys.
Scorers included Berekum Chelsea’s Emmanuel Clottey who had a hat-trick, Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan (two goals apiece), and Prince Tagoe, Kwadwo Asamoah and Anthony Annan (one goal each).
The standard of football produced by the Black Stars has been tremendous in recent times but they need to start scoring more if the team is to make qualification certain.
Sunderland striker, Asamoah Gyan, who together with attacking midfielders, Andre Dede Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah will have to give a hugely committed performance, has typified Ghana’s workmanlike performance in attack.
On paper, The Sudanese appear the least likely opponents to unleash terror on the Black Stars on home soil but nothing is impossible in football.
The Hawks, one of the three teams alongside Egypt and Ethiopia to take part in the inaugural African Nations Cup in 1957, won the 1970 African Nations Cup as hosts when they beat Ghana 1-0 in the final match.
They draw most of their players from the ranks of local top clubs, especially Al Hilal and Al Merreikh. It is thus easy to write them off against the Ghanaian team dominated by Europe-based players but complacency can be dangerous.
The core of the Black Stars that played in the 2010 World Cup is still intact for Sunday’s game and the team will surely start as favourites.
On that score, much will be expected from skipper John Mensah and his colleagues.
If Olympique Marseille prodigy, Jordan Ayew, who enjoys a massive fan base in Kumasi, starts the match, it will be interesting to see how he combines with his senior brother, Andre to produce a glittering display to wet the appetite of the football fans.