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26.03.2007 Football News

Stars Maintain Unbeaten Record

Stars Maintain Unbeaten Record

The Black Stars and their Austrian counterpart drew 1-1 in a friendly international in Graz last Saturday as both teams continued preparations for major tournaments on home soil.

Austria, the Euro 2008 co-hosts with neighbours Switzerland, took an unexpected lead after 55 minutes when midfielder Rene Aufhauser headed in Andreas Ivanschitz's corner.

Ghana, who will also be busy next year hosting the African Nations Cup, struck back with three minutes left. Udinese midfielder Sulley Muntari benefited from a poor Austrian clearance to level the match.

The Stars, who last year made their first appearance at the World Cup finals, had looked the stronger team for most of the first half.

Even without influential captain Stephen Appiah and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, both missing through injury, Ghana created a host of good chances, the best of which fell to Muntari's Udinese team-mate Asamoah Gyan.

Gyan, who scored the fastest goal of the 2006 World Cup, came close to another early strike last Saturday when he hit the crossbar in the third minute. He then blazed narrowly over Alex Manninger's goal a quarter of an hour later.

Gyan's forced withdrawal at halftime with an apparent pulled muscle seemed to give the home side some breathing space, and following Aufhauser's opener Roland Linz had two good chances to extend the lead.

The Austrians were left ruing those missed opportunities in the 87th minute when Muntari pounced on a weak header from defender Christian Fuchs and slid the ball back through Fuchs's legs and beyond the outstretched Manninger.

Austria's next friendly is against France in Paris on Wednesday, while Ghana meet Brazil in Sweden tomorrow.

Black Stars: Sammy Adjei/Richard Kingson, John Paintsil, Hans Adu Sarpei, Francis Dickoh, John Mensah, Eric Addo, Laryea Kingson, Derek Boateng/Alex Tachie Mensah, Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan/Peter Ofori-Quaye, Haminu Draman/Michael Helegbe.

source — BBC