Ghana Eliminate Togo
GHANA'S LOCALLY-based Black Stars kept their hopes of qualifying for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) alive after playing a 2-2 drawn game with the Hawks of Togo last Saturday at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra.
The Ghanaians thus qualify on a 4-2 aggregate after winning the first leg 2-0.
Togo had adopted Ghana as their home ground due to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) ban imposed on the country's stadia as a result of fan violence.
A brace by Togolese striker Aleonouvo Backer in the 44th and 83rd minutes, and a goal each by John Boye and Eric Bekoe in the 19th and 51st minutes respectively led to the 2-2 draw, and it was enough to secure Ghana a place in the next round of the competition.
Ghana's opener came in the 19th minute when attacking midfielder John Boye headed home from close range Ekow Benson's splendid corner kick that left Togolese keeper, Klomegan Jean Robert without an answer.
The Hawks of Togo who featured six players that did not play in the first leg, leveled the score a minute to halftime through entertaining Aleonouvo Backer who was totally unmarked inside Ghana's 18-yard box. He connected a 30-yard lob from Kinvi-Boh Alex's pass.
Top scorer in the on-going Onetouch Premier League, Eric Bekoe put Ghana in the lead again just six minutes after recess with a superb back-heal inside the Togolese area that won the applause of all, as he easily beat keeper, Jean Robert for Ghana's second goal.
Bekoe, who showed signs of fatigue in the game, asked to be substituted in the 67th minute but it was not until the 69th minute that Coach Le Roy brought in Baba Iddi and Francis Akwafo-Boateng for the Kotoko striker and Jordan Opoku respectively.
The Togolese, with the zeal to carry the day and qualify to the next stage, lifted up their game and broke through Ghana's defence several times, but it was the danger man Backer again who through a solo effort, dribbled past two defenders to beat advancing goalkeeper Abdul Fatau Dauda to put his side on level terms in the 83rd minute.
Speaking to DAILY GUIDE SPORTS after the game, the Coach of Togo, Kodjovi Mawuena said, “I did not have the chance to watch the locally-based team of Ghana before the two games, and there had not been a national league in Togo in the last eight months.
The boys were picked from their various homes with only a week of training.
“I would say we tried, as the results were not humiliating. I now know that I have a team for future assignments in the country,” he added.
The Togo national team, which will prepare for the Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers, is expected to camp this week with the arrival of their star Emmanuel Segun Adebayo.
The team will face Libya in a friendly on May 23, 2008 before moving to Accra to play the qualifiers against Zambia who have now signed former Black Star Masseur, Herve Renard for a three-year contract.
Other nations that qualified for the next round of CHAN are Morocco who defeated Algeria 3-1 on penalties after one all in both legs, and Cameroon beat Gabon 2-0 to qualify despite their 1-2 loss in the first leg played in Yaounde two weeks ago.
DR Congo also went through despite losing 1-2 to Congo Brazzaville. They won the first leg by a 3-0 scoreline earlier on at home, while Egypt opted to withdraw in their game against Libya who now have a walkover.
Reports reaching DAILY GUIDE SPORTS indicated that Sudan and Tanzania have also qualified at the expense of Rwanda and Uganda respectively.
By Pierre Toto