ghana blank stars
Ghana are confident of brushing Bafana Bafana aside at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein tonight despite being minus an array of top players.
The Black Stars arrived yesterday without big names like Junior Agogo, Sulley Muntari, Gyan Asamoah and John Mensah, contrary to what they told Sowetan on Monday.
Top Ghanaian soccer official Yaw La-Danso Addo said their Serbian coach, Milovan Rajevec, had retained the same team that beat Lesotho 3-0 on Saturday.
Other notable absentees in the team welcomed by David Nhlabathi, Safa executive member, are Richard Kingson, John Paintsil, Andrew Ayew and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.
The injured Michael Essien is still out.
With so many of Ghana's stars missing the match could turn out to be a waste of money for Safa who will pay the Black Stars an appearance fee believed to be around R700000.
It also flies in the face of claims by Safa that they would get the strongest possible opposition for Bafana after failing to qualify for the Afcon finals in Angola.
Naturally, it will be impossible for Bafana Bafana to assess their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the 2010 World Cup with opposition teams leaving out their best players.
It was more or less the same situation three weeks ago against Malawi, who fielded a second string team that got a 3-0 hiding from Bafana Bafana. One of the few positives is that Bafana Bafana can improve on their 85th spot in the world rankings by beating 25th ranked Ghana.
Safa boss Raymond Hack said it was not possible for them to instruct the opposition who to select.
Ghana's only popular internationally star in this team in Mangaung is club-less Stephen Appiah. Also in the team is Jonathan Quartey of Kaizer Chiefs.
Rajevec said: "The problem is that some of the clubs refused to allow the players to be away longer after the win over Lesotho. Every game is important, the absence of the guys you've just mentioned will allow us to try other combinations."
There should be no excuses from SA coach Joel Santana tonight (8.30 kickoff) after he secured all his top players like Benni McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena and Thembinkosi Fanteni.
l For TV coverage of this match and today's 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifiers see page 34.