The African Qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup commenced on November 15, 2023, with the continent poised to send a record-setting 10 nations to the newly-expanded worldwide competition.
Five African countries participated in the previous edition held in Qatar in 2022 with Morocco making history as the first African team to reach the semi-finals.
In Group I, the Black Stars of Ghana will be in contention for qualification with their first group match against Madagascar on Friday at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium. The game is set to kick off at 4 pm.
Although Ghana haven’t impressed in recent times on the continent, they are expected to start off with a good performance to bolster their chances of qualifying to the World’s biggest football tournament in 2026.
They will be battling with Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros and Mali alongside Madagascar in Group I.
Ghana is heading into their first match after facing two consecutive friendly losses against Mexico and the United States last month.
However, the last time Ghana played on their home soil was against Liberia in a friendly game at the Accra Sports Stadium that ended 3-0.
For Madagascar, they had a tough time during the AFCON qualification as they finished at the bottom of their group with just three points and failed to win any of their six matches.
They may not be an entertaining side but Ghana cannot write them off. Their performance at the start of the year during the CAF African Nations Championship cannot be overlooked as they placed third in the competition.
Due to setbacks, Ghana’s coach Chris Hughton has had to make some changes to the 25-man squad he initially announced.
Fatawu Issahaku and Medeama’s Nurudeen Abduliah have been called up to replace Kamaldeen Sulemana and Abdul Mumin.
Other absentees who couldn’t make the squad due to injury are, Thomas Partey, Joseph Aidoo, Tariq Lamptey and Alexander Djiku.
Captain Andre Ayew whose inclusion generated a lot of discussion is expected to bring some wealth of experience to the current squad as they kick off their exciting World Cup journey.
Jojo Wollacott has also regained his spot in the squad, replacing Abdul Manaf.
Madagascar do not have any major injuries recorded in their camp and the side are poised to cause an upset when they face Ghana on Friday.
Ghana and Madagascar have faced each other five times with Ghana winning once, drawing twice and losing twice against their opponents.
Possible line ups:
Ghana possible starting lineup:
Ati-Zigi, Seidu, N. Opoku, Daniel Amartey, Abdul Fatawu Hamid, Salis Samed, Majeed Ashimeru, Mohammed Kudus, J. Ayew, Paintsil, Williams
Madagascar possible starting lineup:
Adrien, Rabemananjara, Ramanjary, Razafindraibeharimihanta, Fortun, Lalaina, Ilaimaharitra, Tokinantenaina, Raveloson, Randrianantenaina, Lapoussin
Ghana 2-1 Madagascar