Ghana and Nigeria meet in the first leg of the World Cup play-off on Friday. The kick-off in Kusame in Ghana is at 20:30. We have analysed the teams, odds and best bets for you.
By the way: You can find our ranking of the top African betting providers in our betting sites comparison section.
What is in Ghana’s favour?
- Home advantage
- Weak Nigeria defence
- Team spirit
What does Nigeria have going for them?
- Outstanding individual class
- Second leg in Lagos
Our Betting Predictions:
- Predictions: Ghana Asian handicap 0 / Nigeria +0.5 corners
- Bookmaker: Betway
- Odds: 1.85 / 1.83
Long-time rivals Ghana and Nigeria each qualified for the crucial play-off as group winners. Ghana’s Group G was particularly tight: the Black Stars had the same number of points and the same goal difference as fellow rivals South Africa. The deciding factor, in the end, was a single goal, which Ghana (7) scored more than the South Africans (6). Group C was no walk in the park for Nigeria either. A surprising defeat against Central Africa again put qualification in jeopardy. Only a draw in a dramatic match against the Cape Verde Islands secured first place for Nigeria – a defeat would have resulted in elimination.
Expert analysis Ghana
After neither the qualifying phase nor the Africa Cup in January went well for Ghana, they were looking for new inspirations. They found them in a man with lots of Bundesliga experience: Otto Addo. The former Ghanaian international, who was born and raised in Germany, is expected to give the team a new face and a new temperament for Friday’s match. That will be necessary because at least on paper, the Ghanaian players are hopelessly inferior to their opponents.
They have no real star like Tony Yeboah or Abedi Pele in earlier days, nor do the two successful sons of Pele, Jordan and Andrew Ayew stand out from the team. André Ayew is missing because of a red card. Without him, the star and leader of the team is now Arsenal London defensive midfielder Thomas Partey, who has become a regular in the Premier League. Alongside him is midfield talent Mohammed Kudus from Ajax Amsterdam. Otto Addo’s hopes are also pinned on the German-Ghanaian Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, who is currently playing in the form of his life. Thanks to him, his club FC St.Pauli is currently on top of the 2nd Bundesliga this season.
Addo obviously put a lot of emphasis on character and other values in his selection. Some top-class players like RSC Anderlecht midfielder Majeed Ashimiru or Crystal Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp were not invited – instead, surprisingly, Kwasi Wriedt, who like Addo was born in Hamburg and plays in the second division (with Holstein Kiel). The selection of the squad was heavily criticised by some Ghanaian greats of the past, like Asamoah Gyan – and Otto Addo took a lot of risks. All those former stars won’t stop criticising him if he fails with his squad.
However, the “12th man” in the Ghana team will be the stadium. The Baba Yara Stadium is known as an absolute hotbed. The use of the stadium is allowed due to an emergency decree.
Expert analysis Nigeria
Some of the biggest football stars of the African continent will play for the Nigerian team, most notably Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City or Victor Osimhen, the goal-getter of Napoli. In addition, another Leicester star, Ademola Lookman, makes his debut for Nigeria. He played for England so far. So on paper at least, coach Augustine Eguavoen has a slight advantage over the Ghanaian team.
But for the most part, they are the same big names who failed rather miserably at the Africa Cup in Cameroon in January – including coach Eguavoen.
And for all the brilliance of the forwards, there are at least some weak spots in the Super Eagles defence. They have no top defenders and Sparta Rotterdam’s regular goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, is out for the game. Without him, they will have to rely on players who are not top goalkeepers: Either Daniel Akpeyi of Kaizer Chiefs will stand between the posts or Francis Uzoho of Omonia Nicosia from Cyprus.
Head-to-head & statistics
The rivalry between the two neighbouring African countries is internationally comparable to that between Germany and Holland or England and Scotland. Since the 1950s, the two countries have fought many battles against each other on the football pitch. Officially, there have been 56 matches so far, of which Ghana has won 25. Nigeria has only been victorious 12 times.
However, the last match between the two teams was quite a while ago. In October 2011 both sides met for a friendly match on neutral ground in England. It finished 0-0. The last two competitive matches during the 2010 and 2008 Africa Cups ended 1-0 and 2-1 for Ghana.
Looking at the two teams’ qualifying matches, it is noticeable that both teams scored few goals on average. Ghana’s average was 1.67 per match, Nigeria’s average was only 2.00. 5 out of 6 matches between the two teams ended with less than 3 goals.
Our betting prediction for Ghana vs Nigeria
This will be a hot battle on Friday in Kumasi, Ghana. Neither team will risk too much. However, home advantage for Ghana and weaknesses in the Nigerian defence could work against the Super Eagles and be in favour of the Black Stars. Ghana may have fewer glamorous stars, but they have a coach with plenty of Bundesliga and Champions League experience. Addo does not rely on big names. He wants to put together a team whose individual characters should fit well together. Perhaps he will try to achieve this with German strengths.
For the first leg in Kumasi, we bet on a win for the hosts with an Asian Handicap of 0. In case of a draw, you get your stakes back.
Another interesting bet in this match is the corners. Ghana is the favourite here. However, Nigeria has many wingers with Lookman, Simon or Chukwuechi. There will be many more situations on the flanks for Nigeria than for Ghana. Ghana will focus its game on the centre through Kudus, Partey or Kyereh. Therefore, it is very likely that Nigeria will get more corners than Ghana.
This and other bets and be found at Betway. The price for the home win with the Asian Handicap 0 is currently at an attractive 1.85. You can get the bet on Nigeria +0.5 Corners at 1.83.
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