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24.11.2007 Sports News

The Stars Victory

By Daily Guide
The Stars Victory

Last Wednesday, Ghana's senior national team, the Black Stars defeated the Squirrels of Benin 4-2 in the final of the just-ended Four-Nation Zenith Bank Tournament at the Ohene Djan Stadium.

If the Togo national team had scared the Black Stars in the first game, then the Squirrels of Benin really exposed certain lapses in the team's set-up.

It was the Beninois who got the opener through Sessegnon Stephane, who converted a spot-kick in the 24th minute, after their striker, Gaspoz Alain was brought down inside the Ghanaian box by Haminu Dramani.

Before then, the Black Stars had set-up many good scoring chances.

Rough play was introduced into the game, compelling Black Stars' ace midfielder, Michael Essien to clumsily tackle Beninois Adjanousi Anicet, on the stroke of half-time.

In the second half, the pace of the game quickened and the Squirrels worsened the plight of the Ghanaians when Benin striker Omotoyossi Razak dribbled two defenders and beat advancing keeper Sammy Adjei to tap the ball into the net for the second goal.

A minute later, striker Junior Agogo, who was unmarked, scored a goal for Ghana.

In the 71st minute, Laryea Kingston went round three defenders and squeezed in to beat keeper Chitou Razak, restoring parity.

The Black Stars scored their third goal through skipper Stephen Appiah in the 83rd minute, while two minutes later Laryea Kingston registered his second goal of the match for the Stars from a 20-yard free-kick perfectly taken after Beninois defender had fouled entertaining midfielder, Dede Ayew.

Speaking to DAILY GUIDE SPORTS after the game, Stephen Appiah explained that he was still not fully fit for the game, but was excited about the important victory.

“I have to be honest I am not yet 100 percent fit but I have started playing with my team in Turkey.

I featured in three games; two of them I played 90 minutes while in the other it was 45 minutes only because I would need more time to regain my rhythm and endurance,” he said.

He revealed that despite their opponents 0-2 lead, they managed to win the game, adding that the victory would boost their morale.

Laryea Kingston said it was a difficult game because the Beninois had studied the Ghanaian style of play and were always very close to each player, preventing them from developing their play especially in midfield.

The Black Stars were presented with a trophy, medals and $70.000, whilst second placed Benin got the runner-up medals and $50.000.

Meanwhile, in the third placed game earlier on in the day, Togo mesmerized UAE 5-0 to finish in third position with a $40.000 prize and a half-time award of a special shield for their country's FA from organizers of the event. The UAE received $20.000.

After the game Stephen Keshi, Coach of Togo, said their victory in the third position match was very important for the group of young players he had assembled in a short time before the tournament.
Keshi also praised the UAE's young team for their discipline.

Though only three goals were scored on the first day of the tournament, the second day fetched 11 goals, making a total of 14 goals in the competition.

Ghanaian referee Alex Kotey, who handled the third place game between UAE and Togo, showed the only red card of the tournament to Mohamed Qassim Juma for persistently challenging his decisions.

The Benin national team that played against Ghana in the final of the just-ended event, featured only three local players: Amoussou Valere, reserve keeper from Mogas 90; Traore M. Hai of Panther; and Koukou Djiran of Soleil club who played instead of the regular goalie, Chitou Razak.

By Pierre Toto