20.06.2005 Football News

Happy day turns sour

By Raymond Yeboah([email protected])
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Johannesburg - It should have been the happiest day of his soccer career, but it turned sour for Bafana Bafana skipper Aaron Mokoena who won his 50th cap at the age of 24.

He could do little to prevent his side losing 2-0 to Ghana at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

But the Blackburn Rovers star warned that the fight was not over for a place in the World Cup finals in Germany next year.

Said Mokoena: "I am bitterly disappointed. But we are not going to throw in the towel. We will fight until the final whistle of the final game. The players are determined not to give up despite this setback. We still believe we can qualify for Germany."

Mokoena accepted the blame for the opening goal scored by Matthew Amoah. But he felt Black Stars skipper Stephen Appiah was in an offside position when he outran the Bafana defence and laid off the ball to Amoah who had the easist of tap-ins.

He said: "I thought Appiah was offside. We were not happy with the referee or the linesman."

However, the linesman and referee got it right. The fault lies with Mokoena and his defenders who were caught square.

Bafana coach Stuart Baxter challenged his players to win the remaining two World Cup qualifiers and stay in with a chance of reaching Germany.

Baxter said: "The players could lie down and die and give up hope. But my money is on the boys picking up their socks and winning both remaining games and giving themselves a chance of playing at the World Cup next year."

But for Bafana to pip Ghana the Black Stars will have to drop at least a point from their remaining two games against Uganda (home) and Cape Verde (away). Both Bafana and Ghana have 15 points. But on the head-to-head position, Ghana are well in front, having beaten Bafana 3-0 in Kumasi in the first round.

Should both countries end with the same number of points, Ghana will go to Germany.

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