Port Elizabeth - Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah says he would prefer to tackle a top team like Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals than a side with nothing to lose like Cape Verde.
The Black Stars will be favourites to end the fairy tale run of Cape Verde in the first quarter-final here on Saturday.
However, coach Appiah said he expects a difficult game because the west African islanders will play without pressure as they have nothing to lose.
“I would have preferred a game against Ivory Coast than against Cape Verde because Cape Verde have nothing to lose on Saturday,” Appiah said.
“They will play without any pressure and they are a very physical side, meaning we have to prepare ourselves very well to match them.
“I respect them and we cannot afford to underrate them because any team who qualified for this tournament are good and cannot be underrated. We have to work hard to go past them.”
The Black Stars pipped the Blue Sharks 1-0 in a warm-up prior to this competition, but Appiah brushed aside the significance of the result.
“Yes, we beat them in a friendly, but it does not really matter whether you win a friendly 10-0 or lose 10-0. What is important in such games is the tactical behaviour of your team,” said the former Ghana left-back.
Ghana won Group B with seven points and Appiah disclosed that playing against group runners-up Mali was a good preparation for the clash with Cape Verde.
“Mali are similar in style to Cape Verde and so one would say they have prepared us for the game on Saturday,” he said.
The Black Stars quest for a fifth Nations Cup title after they last won it 31 years ago has been further boosted by the return to full fitness of strikers Richmond Boakye-Yiadom and Mubarak Wakaso.
Boakye-Yiadom has been nursing a groin injury, while Wakaso suffered a sore knee.
“The doctor has passed them fit. It's great to have all your players fit,” confirmed Appiah.
Injury-hit midfielder Anthony Annan will continue his recovery with a light workout, officials said.