Former Black Stars defender Samuel Inkoom has advised the team to properly prepare for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, which begin in November 2023.
Ghana was drawn in Group I against Mali, Madagascar, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, and Comoros in the draw held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Thursday, and will have to top the group after 10 rounds of matches to book a place in the World Cup, which is co-hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
While Ghana appears to be the only team in the group to have been in the World Cup, aficionados of the game believe it is a difficult group for the five-time African champions.
Inkoom who played for Ghana in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in which Ghana reached the quarter-finals has advised the team not to underestimate any of their opponents.
“I think to be honest, someone will just say this [a] group Ghana can qualify [from] without any stress, but I have to be honest with you, football has evolved in such a way that you can’t even predict who will qualify out of the group.”
“You just have to prepare and prepare adequately towards these kinds of group opponents. The group winner qualifies for the World Cup, and I know it is not going to be easy.”
“I will not say Mali is the biggest opponent, because we have to respect everybody in the group. I played against Mali and they had a very strong team [back then]. They are still a difficult side to play against.”
“They have good players playing in Europe, it is not going to be easy for Ghana.”
Except for Chad, Ghana has played all of their opponents in competitive matches, with the Black Stars having mixed records versus Mali, Madagascar, CAR, and Comoros.
The last time Ghana played Mali was in a friendly match in 2020, which Mali won 3-0. Meanwhile, in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifications, Ghana won and drew with Madagascar. They also drew with CAR in their second AFCON qualifier encounter and will learn their destiny for the tournament when they face the same opponents again before the World Cup qualifiers.
They also lost 3-2 to Comoros in the last edition of the AFCON, an outcome which denied Ghana a place in the knockout stage for the first time in many years.