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19.03.2004 Football News

Ghana will blithely extend her hospitality to Zambia -Minister

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Accra, March 19, GNA - Ghana's Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has assured the Zambian Olympic soccer team, the young Chipolopolo that the country's traditional hospitality will blithely be extended to them when they clash with the Black Meteors on Sunday, March 28, at the Kumasi Sports Stadium to decide which of the two make it to the Athens Olympic Games in August, this year.

This assurance followed the warning issued by the Zambian Youth, Sports and Child Development Minister, Gladys Nyirongo to her country's team to be wary of a hostile reception when they travel to Ghana for the decider.

The Zambian Minister's fear is said to stem from an alleged bad treatment meted out to their senior national team, in a match in which they lost 0-3 to Benin in last year's final qualifier to the Tunisia Cup of Nations.

Alhaji Rashid Bawa, Minister of State at the Education, Youth and Sports Ministry, however, debunked the wrong impression being created about Ghana and challenged the Zambian Minister to produce evidence of Ghana's ill treatment of any nation.

"I can assure them that we aren't going to do anything to frustrate them, but we'll work hard to beat them on the pitch", the Minister told the GNA Sports in Accra on Friday.

Zambia beat Ghana 2-0 in 1988 in a similar decider for the Seoul Olympic Games but the Meteors, who defeated the young Chipolopolo to win the bronze medal at the Abuja All African Games, are bent on rewriting the script on March 28th.

Ghana and Zambia share the summit of the four-nation table on 10 points apiece but the visitors lead with superior goals, which means that the Black Meteor will have to win to make it to Athens. Alhaji Bawa reckoned though, that the match will be very competitive but assured the Zambians that Ghana will win the match through fair means.

Meanwhile, the Minister together with Coach Mariano Barreto under the auspices of the Ghana Football Association are working hard for the release of Michael Essien of Olympic Lyon, France, Suley Muntari of Udinese, Italy plus a couple other foreign-based professionals for the make-or-break encounter.