LeRoy cautious ahead of Guinea


The pressure on the home side to deliver the trophy come February 10 is immense, though they can take solace in the fact that the last two editions of the tournament – in Tunisia (2004) and Egypt (2006) – have been won by the host nation.

And they will not get much sterner test of their championship credentials than the opening match against Guinea at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra.

‘Syli Nationale’ come into the tournament as perhaps the form team in Africa. After a comfortable qualification campaign, they beat 2006 World Cup finalists Angola 3-0 in a friendly at the end of last year, and then dispatched much-fancied Sudan 6-0 on January 11.

Ghana coach Claude LeRoy will certainly not be taking them for granted, calling on the passionate Black Stars support to rally behind his side.

"We're favourites because we're hosting the competition,” he said. “A lot of teams are here with a huge potential and that's why for us it'll be a big help to get the fans behind us. But sometimes it's up to the players to get the supporters backing them."

There had been mention in the local press that Ghana would run away with it in today’s match, a notion that LeRoy dismisses outright.

"Talk of us winning 3-0 is disrespectful – what we want are the three points,” he says. “Guinea are a skilful football team. They've got some of the best players in the French league. It's a well-balanced side and we know it will be very complicated.

"They have players who can create problems, like Pascal Feindouno, but it's important we get a win on the table."

Meanwhile, Guinea skipper Feindouno says his side are relaxed and confident that they can cause an upset.

"It's Ghana that will be under pressure, not us," he told Fifa.com. "There's no denying that they're a top team, but nothing's impossible.

"Whatever happens, we're aiming for the semifinals at least. I'm convinced we even have what it takes to lift the trophy. We've lost out twice in the quarterfinals in the past, but I think we deserved better."

History is on Ghana’s side. In nine previous meetings, Ghana have never lost to Guinea, winning six matches and claiming three draws.