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28.03.2007 Football News

Gallant Stars Lose Narrowly

Gallant Stars Lose Narrowly

Ghana's Black Stars yesterday lost 0-1 to Brazil in an international friendly played in Stockholm, with Vagner Love's 17th minute goal ending Ghana's post-World Cup unbeaten run and handing the South Americans their sixth win in eight matches under coach Dunga.

Incidentally, Ghana's last defeat came at the hands of Brazil in the second round of the Germany 2006 World Cup, but the under-strength Ghanaian team showed grit and determination against their star-studded opponents who often looked like an ordinary side.

Despite the conspicuous absence of Skipper Stephen Appiah, and midfield powerhouse Michael Essien and striker Junior Agogo, the gallant Stars drew inspiration from the presence of former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan in the stands, and matched the five times world champions boot for boot even with numerical disadvantage late into the game.

Ghana's striking options worsened early in the game when Asamoah Gyan limped off injured and was replaced by Switzerland-based Alex Tachie-Menson.

In the face of his team's injury crisis, Coach Claude Le Roy showed a strong heart in his team building effort as he assigned Essien's role to uncapped Anthony Annan and later brought on youngsters like Bernard Kumordji, Michael Helegbe, Ekow Benson and Alfred Arthur who gave a good account of themselves in their international debut.

Brazil enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the first half as their FC Barcelona superstar, Ronaldinho, played a rather withdrawn game almost at walking pace, allowing Kaka to run the show until he was substituted late into the game as the Brazil coach also tried a couple of new stars.

A sudden lapse of concentration by Ghana's defence allowed unmarked Love to tap in a header by Kaka who connected Ronaldinho's above his markers.

It came against the run of play and three minutes after Ghana came close to scoring after Brazil goalie Julio Cesar deflected Eric Addo's goal-bound header to corner.

The second half tilted in favour of the Stars who played an attacking game and pushed Brazil to the wall, with great runs from Draman and Hans Adu Sarpei on the flanks, while Laryea Kingson and Sulley Muntari provided drive in midfield.

Twice in the 49th and 53rd minutes goalkeeper Cesar denied Ghana an equaliser, first deflecting Laryea Kingson's piledriver and punching Muntari's free kick to corner.

In the 77th minute Draman was given the marching off order for a second bookable offence after what looked like a clean tackle.

Ghana: Kingson, Paintsil, Mensah, Dickoh, Sarpei/Arthur, Laryea/Kumordji, Addo/Boateng, Annan, Draman, Muntari, Gyan/Tachie-Mensah/Helegbe.