African Nations Championship Final 2014: Preview and Predictions for CHAN Final

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2014

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 10:  James Appiah Head Coach of Ghana before the international friendly match between Japan and Ghana at International Stadium Yokohama on September 10, 2013 in Yokohama, Japan.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

With Ghana and Libya now noted down as the participants in this year's African Nations Championship final, eyes inevitably turn toward Saturday's climax.

Both sides have had long journeys to the Cape Town Stadium, summarised succinctly by the fact that each team had to win their respective semi-final by way of penalty shootout.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 19:  A general view during the 2014 African Nations Championship match between South Africa and Nigeria at Cape Town Stadium on January 19, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Having already met once this tournament in their Group C examination, these two teams will seek to do what they couldn't on that occasion and determine an eventual winner, with South Africa's anxious onlookers not willing to settle for anything less.

Ahead of this weekend's crescendo, read on for a preview of the competition's final, where one of Africa's usual suspects will seek to overpower their less-recognised foe.


Date: Saturday, Feb. 1

Time: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET

Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town


Key Player to Watch

Ghana: Jordan Opoku

Ghana's run to this weekend's closing clash hasn't been the goal-rich process that many might have been expecting of the West African nation, so it's essential that all other areas of the pitch stand firm.

LUANDA, ANGOLA - JANUARY 24:  Opoku Agyemang of Ghana and Wilson of Angola  during the Africa Cup of Nations Quarter Final match between Angola and Ghana from the November 11 Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Luanda, Angola. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Im
Gallo Images/Getty Images

In Jordan Opoku, the Black Stars have at least been able to count on one reliable figure in their engine room at all times—the captain has provided a beacon that the rest of his squad can follow.

The 30-year-old has done his best to provide a linchpin in between midfield and attack, but such has been the tightness of some Ghanaian encounters that it's been necessary to see Opoku drop into a more central role at times these past two weeks.

ESPN's Colin Udoh has pointed out that Ghana lack some ingenuity at times when in possession:

With Kwabena Adusei now suspended for the final thanks to his red card, it seems only more likely that Opoku may have to handle a slightly increased defensive load, while still striving to engineer some movement for Akwasi Appiah's men going forward.

The leader of the Black Stars couldn't ask for a better time to step up to the spotlight and rule the stage than this weekend's sink-or-swim circumstances will lay on.


Libya: Abdelrahman Fetori

There may be a gulf in talent between some of Libya and Ghana's ranks, but one part of the pitch where the former can say they've been more impressive in is attack, with Wednesday's semi-final being their first scoreless game of the tournament. 

The Mediterranean Knights managed to hit the net five times in the group stages compared to Ghana's three, and they now seek to open up Appiah's defence once more, just as they did in the 1-1 draw these outfits fought to at the Free State Stadium a fortnight ago.

However, it's a proficient and understanding defence that Libya must pose against Ghana, with Abdelrahman Fetori having led the back-line with relative ease thus far, impressing particularly against the Warriors.

As SuperSport note, the defender came through with a critical 93rd-minute equaliser against Congo last week:

They might have failed to do it against Zimbabwe this week, but as long as Javier Clemente's side can craft opportunities and make a threat on goal, Fetori will be at the other end to ensure nothing leaks through.


Prediction: Ghana 0-1 Libya (AET)