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Football | Afcon

Kwesi Appiah © Backpagepix

Ghana wary of Niger's physical threat



Ghana believe a physical and defensive Niger will pose their biggest challenge yet when the teams clash in a decisive Africa Cup of Nations Group B tie on Monday.

Second favourites behind Ivory Coast to win the tournament, the Black Stars of Ghana top Group B with four points after an opening-day stumble against the Democratic Republic of Congo when they drew after squandering a two-goal lead.

"We have watched Niger play DR Congo and Mali. They are a very physical and tactically disciplined team and this match will be more difficult than our first two," warned midfielder Derek Boateng.

"Niger are no pushovers and we have to do more to beat them," added Bristol City midfielder Albert Adomah.

"No game is easy here, but we are getting better as a team and, hopefully, we will move to the next stage."

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah said his team will have to be very fit and prepared for a physical battle at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in this Indian Ocean city.

"We have to be very prepared for this match against a very tactically disciplined side because this will most likely be our biggest test so far," said Appiah.

"But I have total confidence in my players even though many of them are featuring at this tournament for the first time. We will take this competition one match at a time."

Espanyol midfielder Mubarak Wakaso misses the game as he is serving a one-match ban after picking up his second booking of the tournament for his goal celebration against Mali.

Wakaso is also nursing a knee complaint, but coach Appiah disclosed he should be fit for the quarterfinals, assuming the Black Stars qualify.

Ghana's only injury worry is Italy-based striker Richmond Boakye-Yiadom, who has not fully recovered from a groin injury sustained during a training camp in Abu Dhabi.

The Black Stars will be up against the pumped-up Mena (Gazelles) of Niger, who defied the form book to hold DR Congo 0-0 for their first point in the competition after a defeat by Mali last week and losses to Gabon, Tunisia and Morocco in the 2012 Cup of Nations.

Niger skipper Moussa Maazou has admitted it will not be an easy game against one of the top teams in the tournament.

"It won't be an easy match for us, but we will try our best," vowed Maazou, whose team have watched videos of the two games involving Ghana.

Issiakou Koudize is the only concern for Niger as he has a knee injury and German coach Gernot Rohr said the 22-year-old defensive midfielder will face a late fitness test.

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