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Bradley's Egypt draws Ghana in African World Cup qualifying playoffs

Bob Bradley

For the second time in his international management career, Bob Bradley will have to face Ghana, with defeat meaning the end of a dream for him and the nation he currently calls home.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) presented the results of their third-round draw on Monday morning, which will decide the five entrants to the World Cup in Brazil next year. Egypt and Ghana were drawn together in one of a two mouth-watering ties, including Senegal vs. Ivory Coast. The matches will be played over two legs on October 11-15 and November 15-19.

Of the teams in the draw, Burkina Faso, and 93rd ranked Ethiopia have never qualified for the World Cup finals. The two other ties see Tunisia face Cameroon and Burkina Faso play Algeria. Tunisia was originally out of this round, but a ruling from FIFA sent them on after Cape Verde was forced to forfeit a match where they used an ineligible player.

Bradley last faced Ghana as coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, when Ghana defeated the Americans in overtime in the 2010 World Cup Round of 16.

Egypt is the only nation in the continent of Africa to still have a 100% record in qualifying and will be looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990 with an upset victory against a talented Ghana side. History is on Egypt’s side though. The Pharoes have a 10-6-5 record against Ghana, last defeating the Black Stars in the 2010 African Cup of Nations Final.

What do you think of this news? See Egypt being able to beat Ghana? Think it’s only fitting to have Bradley face the Ghanaians?

Share your thoughts below.

105 comments
    • Chris2

      Yeah, someone with more time than me should run the simulations–I’m pretty sure the CONCACAF system leads to stronger teams, on average, in the WC finals than the CAF system does.

      Like

      • Jake

        For sure… out of the teams CONCACAF has available a 10 game hex will more often reward the better teams than a home and away knockout based on a draw based on FIFA rankings.

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  • Dave from Charlotte

    I was really hoping they could avoid Ivory Coast and Ghana. Bradley has his work cut out for him, but Egypt is lucky to have him as their coach. If anyone can game plan with somewhat inferior talent to beat an opponent on aggregate it is Bob Bradley.

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  • Josh

    As an American from Egyptian decent, it would be awesome if Bradley and Egypt could find their way though and knocking out Ghana in the process. It’s gonna be tough, but I hear the first leg is in Ghana so it gives Egypt a little but of an advantage. For me, it would be cool to see Egypt in the World Cup in addition to the US. I just hope they don’t play each other in the World Cup.

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    • NC Jeff

      Take what you can get, Josh. If the US plays Egypt, then hey, it means that Egypt made it through. In any case, a lot of US fans are going to be pulling for the Pharoahs … now that I think about it, that would be a good pair of games (especially the 2nd) for ESPN or somone else to pick up.

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      • Josh

        Trust me, if the US plays Egypt in the World Cup, that means Ghana isn’t there. So I’ll take that.

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  • Strider257

    I have to disagree, what could be fairer than home and away matches against the same team to determine who should move on. The challenge is coming up with reasonable seeding to give the strongest teams the chance to move on rather than eliminating each other. Why was Egypt not seeded since they were the only team with a 100% record? Sounds like another classic FIFA setup.

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    • Joe+G

      It’s a fair system for two teams, but perhaps not the best for choosing 5 teams out of ten. If Egypt were the 2nd best team in Africa and ended up losing to the best team, then they stay home. A round robin would be more fair, but obviously takes more time and money.

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    • jonk

      Egypt weren’t seeded because FIFA rankings were used and those rankings rely heavily on teams having played games. Because Egypt failed to qualify for the past 2 AFCONs (which as a confederation tournament carry a lot of weight in FIFA rankings points calculations), they had a big hill to climb despite being perfect in this latest round of qualifying

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      • Smacking

        This is good info. I don’t like it, but it’s probably the fairest way to handle it under this system. And some people say FIFA rankings aren’t important.

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    • NC Jeff

      It was based solely on FIFA world rankings at the time of the draw. I personally think one-on-one knockouts to end qualifying is an awfully harsh way to finalize the 5 available seeds. However. I do realize they start with over 50 teams and most of the continent’s best players play club soccer on another continent. CONCACAF has a similar issue in terms of nations / WC spots, but the main difference is that the bottom 40 teams have absolutely NO chance of qualifying … in CAF, the teams are FAR more balanced.

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    • Jake

      It wasn’t changed to hurt Egypt. Seeding based on FIFA rankings was always the way this was going to be done. Egypt knew all the way through that even if they won out, they’d be in the second pot. To me, its a dumb way to do it, but it wasn’t as if they changed it at the last minute.

      Like

  • Larry

    That sucks for Egypt and BB. The organization of the draw and the whole qualifying process from Africa reflects very, very badly on the CAF.

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    • NC Jeff

      I don’t know if it reflects badly on them. CAF has 56 associations and just 5 bids. The only reasonable thing I see that they could’ve done different was add another knockout round before the group stage. But then, a lot of teams would’ve only played 2 WCQ games. Also, even then, in groups where 2 teams are clearly better than the other 2, you essentially have knockout home-and-away contests anyway. Worse, the games against the bottom 2 could muddy up who really earned the bid should the 2 better teams split their games or draw both games.

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      • Dennis

        No, it would be easy to have 12 teams with the worst FIFA rankings play home and away with each other to eliminate 6, then have five groups of 10 with the winners qualifying. It still raises the issue of which of the top 5 teams the 6th ranked team (Egypt) is grouped with.

        I don’t know which might be more fair. In any case Egypt would have to defeat a team who has done better than them in the FIFA rankings.

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    • Beto

      Imagine if we finished the hex on top and then fifa told us we had to play a home/home vs Costa Rica, Mexico or Honduras?!?

      Like

      • Johnnyrazor

        You wouldn’t its based on world rankings your worst case scenario could only be Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad, Dominican Republic or someone worse. Yes those aren’t easy places to play but you saw what our “b” team did to those teams in the Gold Cup.

        If Egypt has a problem they should have played better over the last few years.

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  • Tamer

    Both teams belong in the World Cup. It’s a bad system that should reward a team who hasn’t lost in qualifying. Instead they get arguably the toughest draw and a team that got in through a back door suspension faces an easier team.

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    • Beto

      +1 basically you qualify, then you go to a playoff to actually qualify. Glad we dont use that system. Anywhere else, if you win your group ur in! Sometimes the runnersup go to a playoff

      I was really rooting for Etheopia and Egypt but they got the hardest draws. Cant imagine a WC w/o Ghana and Nigeria.

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    • THomas

      I agree…they go through an entire group stage, win it clean, and have to go into a home/home playoff. That’s tough.

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  • big tone

    Its over for him and id rather have a stronger african team in the world cup they will get essien , prince ,and that inter player if they qualify

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    • b Shurley

      Kevin Prince Boatang has retired from international play. Sad but true. The Ghana team can be scary good fielding a full squad.

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      • Travis in Miami

        And imagine if Adu would ahve chosen Ghana… they would be super stacked! (I kid, I kid…)

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      • Felix

        KP Boateng has recently made himself available for Ghana again, as well as Essien – conveniently now that the World Cup is next year.

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      • Godwin

        Sorry…dats nt true bcos all Ghana stars are back n were available for de Zambia game.Essien playd and Prince was on de bench

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  • DC Josh

    That’s a tough draw, but it makes for an exciting series. As long as Egypt’s home match will be played in front of fans, I believe they can move on. African nations have the toughest route to qualify, no doubt.

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    • Rory

      I’m not even sure they need the home fans. Egypt has done well in front of the empty stadium and if Ghana suddenly has all their European stars back in the fold the empty stadium might be quite a shocker.

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    • Travis in Miami

      The CAF needs to change their format.

      They need their strongest teams qualifying for WCs. Having either Ghana or Egypt don’t qualify it’s not good for CAF – Kind of like Mexico not going for CONCACAF (thus FIFAs involvement in sanctions against CR).

      But in any case…as I always have…

      In BOB We Trust!

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      • Josh D

        Why? The strongest traditional teams have reached the last round. With the addition of minnows, it makes the final round exciting! Otherwise, if you only included the best teams on paper, why not just have FIFA pick them?

        As much as the World Cup is about the best in the world, it’s equally about giving the poorer teams and smaller countries am opportunity to play in the world’s greatest tournament, a moment equally shared by the team and every citizen in those countries whose only source of happiness is watching their country play against the super star nations.

        It’s like the FA Cup and the Cinderella teams who knock off giants.

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      • Arlie

        This. North Korea and the “people’s Wayne Rooney” was one of my favorite stories of the last world cup, as was Tahiti at the confederations cup. Keeps it interesting, and it’s not like we’ve ever really had an upset (not like Greece winning the euros, for example) in the world cup finals, so the purists still get to see the big dogs play.

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      • Tom

        However in 2002 we were 90 minutes away from a South Korea vs Turkey final. Obviously it didn’t work out…and so it wasn’t the underdog world cup you’re talking about…But we’ve been really close to a crazy final.

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      • Travis in Miami

        This system is like the Bowl system in college football. There’s no way to truly see who the top 5 teams are unless they all play each other. there’s nothing about the best teams on paper in my argument that the system needs to change.

        Imagine CONCACAF having this format last rotation. There would be a possibility that Mex and US would play in a home and home with only one going to the WC. That’s messed up. Instead we have a the Hex to see get a better measure of who the best (in form) teams are..

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      • Mike Santoro

        No there wouldnt. Us and Mexico would always be in the same pot and never play each other. Just like Spain never plays Italy, Ghana never plays Cameroon. The African/UEFA set up protects the top teams If CONCACAF changed to this set up we’d always be lined up with CR, Panama, Jamaica, Honduras in a playoff

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      • Shawn

        Likely CR would be protected as well. Unless they did horrible in the semifinals. It’d probably be 3 protected teams, using FIFA ranking for seeding, like the others do.

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  • NC Jeff

    So, after Ghana knocks out the USMNT w straight WC’s, they might not have to face Ghana this time because … Bob Bradley’s team eliminated them.

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  • Maykol

    Ghana is definitely the better side. Maybe beat team in Africa, would be a shame to not see them make the World Cup, but I’m fairly certain we will see them there

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  • Josh D

    Loyalties are tested here. I want Bob to win to showcase US coaches to the world outside of MLS and the USMNT.

    BUT I almost want a revenge against Ghana more in Brazil next year.

    They probably couldn’t get a tougher team to play against.

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    • The Imperative Voice

      Why would you want to set up another potential Ghana knockout? Go Egypt on both accounts, pro-Bradley and anti-Ghana.

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      • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache

        +10. I hate that side. fast, talented, diving, stalling, whining. Go Bob go!

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      • asoccerroo

        Agreed. Bradley can do a favor for both Egypt and the US by knocking Ghana out of the world cup. Being knocked out of both the 2006 and 2010 world cup by Ghana would make me happy to see Bradley and Egypt defeat them.

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  • Clyde Frog

    Just underlines how important it was for Egypt to qualify for the AFCON.

    And before lamenting their bad luck too much remember that Egypt got pretty lucky with a relatively easy group in the previous round.

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  • PD

    I tell ya, I get up for matches, but I can almost taste the blood in my throat over this one. If the Pharaohs can take that tie, I think it would be fair to call it be one of the biggest wins in Bob Bradley’s career and possibly one of the most “major wins” for an American soccer coach to date.

    I would love nothing more than to have Ghana eliminated from Brasil and to then to have the USA schedule a friendly with them as part of the final tuneups. That would be the perfect sendoff match, cause you know that would have as much intensity as the tourney itself.

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      • Jacknut

        “Tie” is also another word for match. Techincally, a match that ends with both teams scoring the same number of goals is a “draw”.

        /and knowing is half the battle

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      • SilverRey

        Way too many misleading uses of ‘draw’ and ‘tie’ on this page right now.

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      • PD

        I didn’t mean to draw you out into such a discussion. I’m all tied up in knots about it now.

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  • Gary Page

    I would like to add something no one else has mentioned yet. What a wonderful job Bob Bradley has done under the most difficult circumstances found anywhere. Probably only the coach for Syria has a greater challenge in the way of difficulties for the home country. Remember that the domestic league called off most of its season and they have had continuing civil strike while Bradley has been there. Whatever the outcome with Ghana, for Bradley to take Egypt this far is really one of the best coaching accomplishments over the last two years.

    Like

    • AlexH

      Well said. It is already a feather in the cap for American coaching that BB has taken Egypt this far, if Egypt qualifies another barrier for Americans will have fallen (not to mention taking care of the Ghana problem).

      Like

    • wfrw

      Not trying to argue, but all Iraqs home qualifiers were played in Qatar.

      Several teams have difficult circumstances to get in. Egypts is among the toughest.

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    • Mason

      The Syrian qualification campaign was only two matches.

      Syria was eliminated in the Second Round after they were judged to have fielded an ineligible player. Tajikistan advanced 6-0 on aggregate.

      Like

  • mike

    The gods have not smiled on Egypt. Toughest draw possible. But that being said, I want these two matches to be televised. How in the hell is that possible? Go Egypt! Go Bradley!

    Like

  • biff

    As some of the people down below who posted first (grrrr) are saying, it seemed unfair to me that Egypt would have to face Ghana. But checked into it and seems the 10 teams involved in the draw were seeded according to the latest Fifa World rankings. Top five teams in Pot 1 and Next five teams (Egypt was in sixth place) in Pot 2. You can see on the video linked below how the system works. And does now kinda make sense. (Definitely a better system than private late night drawings behind closed doors :-) Bob Bradley was there for the drawing and you can see his reaction at around 22 minutes when he learns he has to face Ghana.

    You gotta cheer for BB, but that last thing I wanna see is the USMNT facing Egypt in WC 2014: USMNT facing ex coach. BB facing a guy he apparently does not really care for who replaced him. Son competing against dad. And quite frankly, I would be worrying the unthinkable would happen, with BB bunkering it out and beating Klinsmann 1-0. It is a lose-lose situation for the USMNT that is not needed and you can bet the farm that if Egypt qualifies for the World Cup Murphy’s law will take effect and it will happen. A group stage meeting would be bad, but the knock-out round would be unbearable.

    http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/newsid=2174592/index.html

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    • Mason

      “Bob Bradley was there for the drawing and you can see his reaction at around 22 minutes when he learns he has to face Ghana.”

      It’s classic Bob Bradley.

      Like

      • the count

        haha, deaddove.jpg

        I watched it thinking I would see some kind of reaction from bradley, but… then i remembered this is Bob Bradley we are talking about.

        classic bob, stonefaced nonreaction all the way.

        I dont know what i was expecting.

        Like

  • Chris Becker

    This is accordance with the rules everyone signed up for, but doesn’t strike me as fair. Fair would be #1 plays #10, #2 plays #9, etc. Having #6 play #1 (by FIFA rankings!!!! rather than WC qual performance) because of poor luck strikes me as simply poor planning on the part of CAF. Pick your poison — lose a perennial favorite or one of the hottest & best story teams in thwe world….

    They did this to themselves. Will be pulling for BB….

    Like

  • Joamiq

    Bob’s reaction to the draw is amazing.

    This is a shame for Africa. Both teams deserve to be there. As others have noted, the home-away final round system is terrible.

    Really tough draw for Bob. Obviously, I’m hoping that Egypt wins. I don’t bear Ghana the kind of ill will a lot of people seem to though. They beat us fair and square. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t hate the Black Stars for it.

    Like

  • Mike Santoro

    The hardest part isnt winning the home/home heads up matches. Its having to come in first in your group of 4. You slip up once at home and you are in trouble. So many Pot 1 African teams don’t even make it to the knockouts because 2nd place is as good as last. Imagine if CONCACAF did that? Every cycle you have to win your group of 1 good team, 1 ok team, and one crap team. Theres been recent cycles where we almost didnt win our pre-hex group, same as Mexico. Thats the tough round. After that a lot of good teams get matched p with the “cinderella teams” (like ethiopia this year)

    Like

    • Johnnyrazor

      That is true but if you put CONCACAF into 12 groups with the winners coming out of that to face each other. Those would be pretty weak groups. Put it like this the 12 teams to qualify for the Gold Cup would be top seeds. Do you see many teams that didn’t make that, that would challenge the US, Mexico, or Costa Rica over 6 games.

      Ethiopia is certainly a surprise but they have been playing better of late. Nigeria their draw for the final round only beat them 2-0 both penalties in the final 10 minutes in the Nations Cup in February. They dominated their group their only lose was a forfeit for using a player on two yellow cards, and he is not one of their best players. He did score the winning goal against CAR though. (By the way, how were so many African teams penalized for this everyone in the US knew Beisler and Cameron were out how do the African teams not)

      Like

      • Mason

        There are 35 teams in CONCACAF that are FIFA members. If you drew 12 groups, you’d have 11 groups of three and one group of two. If the US or MEX were drawn into that group, their entire WCQ tournament would be home and homes against an unseeded team and another group winner. Four matches.

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      • Joe Soccer

        That is true, but you also have to consider what that means. If they set it up correctly (never a given with FIFA or CONCACAF) if the US was in the group of two, the first round opponent would be a really, really bad team. The “best” team they could get (using the current FIFA rankings) would be Bermuda. The worst would be Turks and Caicos, who right now actually have ZERO points in the FIFA rankings. The middle team in that pot would be someone like Virgin Islands or the Bahamas. In any event, if the US couldn’t make it out of that home and home, well, they wouldn’t deserve to be anywhere near the World Cup. Those games would be more like exhibitions than they would be like a qualifier.

        Then in the second round, obviously it would get a little tougher. If you assume that all the best teams qualify, certainly no given, the US opponent in the second round would be one of Jamaica or Haiti (they are currently tied for 6th in CONCACAF), Cuba, T and T, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Guatemala. And in any two game series against any of those countries the US is still a huge favorite. Could they lose? Sure, it’s possible. Just as it’s possible that the US could have lost in the Hex. Possible, but not very likely. The best team in pot two in that scenario is the 78th ranked team in the world. Again, if you can’t beat the 78th ranked team in the world in a home and home you don’t deserve to be anywhere near the World Cup without buying a ticket.

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  • Johnnyrazor

    Egypt deserves a difficult draw they have not qualified for the WC since 1990 and couldn’t even qualify for the African Nations Cup last year losing a home and away with the Central African Republic (anyone want to name a player from that side). They are ranked 6th among the teams to make the final 10.

    If Africa had a two pots of 5 system like Asia, Egypt wouldn’t be favored to qualify in that system either. Or to have made it in the CONCACAF Hex System.

    Like

    • The Imperative Voice

      You’re overstating the meaning of the ranks elsewhere. Panama wouldn’t have been “favored” to make the Hex based on our pots process, and they have not only made it but would currently make the qualifying playoff spot by tiebreaker, ahead of two teams from the seeded tiers (Mexico, pot 1; Jamaica, pot 2).

      Likewise, Iran (qualified) and Jordan (playoff spot) were not in the top 5 seeds in Asia that skipped to the group round. One is in and the other has at least a theoretical chance at advancement.

      Where I think CAF takes the fun out of it, is with this knockout playoff at the end, which arguably favors the ranked status quo. You can always win your playoff and qualify, but I think a last round group stage allows an emerging side room to show their improvement over several games instead of having to beat some World Cup regular by virtue of the draw. Mind you, if they went to 5 groups or fewer, you would be likely to see at least one seeded team per group, instead of the fluff Egypt faced to progress here. But if you did win your group, you wouldn’t be faced with this playoff malarkey after, which I think favors returning the same sort of teams over and over.

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      • Johnnyrazor

        I think the varying systems makes it fun. Essentially Europe has a similar system, with their 2nd places facing off in home and aways.

        Panama is ranked fourth in CONCACAF they would have been the top seed in their African style pot. Although I believe they were lower when qualifying started I will give you that.

        Like

  • dude

    I was feeling strange about the possibility of Egypt playing the US in the World Cup, but this I can get behind. Beat Ghana, for both our sakes.

    Like

  • Godwin

    All Ghana stars are back n wer available for de Zambia game..they are all going to play against Egypt.de Black Stars are unstopable.al of Ghana was happy wen we had Egypt bcos we need a good test to go to Brazil.

    Like

  • selfmade

    In the men’s game of football,USA can never ever beat Ghana just as Ghana can never ever beat US in the netball game called basketball!!! Infact,in football terms,USA is the developing/third world team whiles Ghana is the developed or advance team comparatively like in economics where USA is the advanced country whiles Ghana is a third world country!!! Egypt has a poor record in the WC qualifers from time immemorial and couldn’t even make it when they had the most dangerous team and am surprised people thinks Egypt can beat or eliminate Ghana from the WC with this weak squad!!! This is the WC qualifier not afcon tournament whereby Egypt always win because most of their players are local based and have the luxury of time to camped as compared to Ghana,I.coast and Nigeria!! Ghana,nigeria,cameroon and I coast takes the WC more serious than the afcon as their players knows and understand the market value for them as compared to Egyptians or the magrebian region who prefer their leagues to going abroad and this is the main reason why Ghana ll knockout Egypt out of the WC race!!! This tie all be won in Ghana before we go to Egypt!!! Sorry Americans but u need to wait much longer as Ghana wants to come and win the elusive WC in Brazil for Africa afterall we are not called the Brazil of Africa for nothing!!! We ll see the USA when we get there!!!!

    Like

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