Tuesday, February 12, 2008


• Sixth title for Egypt after 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998 and 2006. Cameroun and Ghana have won the title four times each.

• A total of 99 goals were recorded, ranking the tournament as the one to have produced the highest number of goals in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations.

• Samuel Eto’o was the top scorer of the tournament with five goals. He has so far scored a total of 16 goals, two more than Ivorian legend Laurent Poku, who held the record previously.

• Cameroun’s Indomitable Lions defender Rigobert Song made history by playing his 33rd match at the Africa Cup of Nations final since making his debut in 1996. Song has also featured a total of 54 hours.

• A total of 100 yellow cards were recorded in the 32 matches played during the tournament, an average of three yellow cards per match.

Goals scored
by teams

Côte d'Ivoire — 16 goals
Egypt — 15 goals
Cameroun — 14 goals
Ghana — 11 goals
Morocco — 7 goals
Tunisia — 7 goals
Angola — 5 goals
Guinea — 5 goals
Zambia — 5 goals
Senegal — 4 goals
South Africa — 3 goals
Nigeria — 3 goals
Namibia — 2 goals
Benin — 1 goal
Mali — 1 goal
Sudan — No goal

Goals conceded
by teams

Mali — 3 goals
Nigeria — 3 goals
Angola — 4 goals
South Africa — 5 goals
Egypt — 5 goals
Ghana — 5 goals
Morocco — 6 goals
Senegal — 6 goals
Tunisia — 6 goals
Zambia — 6 goals
Benin — 7 goals
Namibia — 7 goals
Cameroon — 8 goals
Côte d'Ivoire — 8 goals
Sudan — 9 goals
Guinea — 10 goals

Total Goals Scored

Final — 1 goal
Semi-finals and 3rd place match — 12 goals

• An average of 4 goals per match.

Quarter-final — 16 goals

• An average of 4 goals per match

Group Phase

Group A : 19 goals
Group B : 12 goals
Group C : 23 goals
Group D : 16 goals

Total : 99 goals

• Average of 3 goals per match.

Yellow Cards

A total of 100 yellow cards were recorded, with 81 of them coming in the first round.

Egypt — 10 yellow cards
Senegal — 9 yellow cards
Guinea — 8 yellow cards
Namibia — 8 yellow cards
Tunisia — 8 yellow cards
Ghana — 7 yellow cards
Nigeria — 7 yellow cards
Sudan — 7 yellow cards
Cameroun — 6 yellow cards
Angola — 5 yellow cards
Cote d'Ivoire — 5 yellow cards
Mali — 5 yellow cards
Benin — 4 yellow cards
Morocco — 4 yellow cards
Zambia — 4 yellow cards
South Africa — 3 yellow cards.


1. Egypt
2. Cameroun
3. Ghana
4. Côte d'Ivoire
5. Tunisia
6. Angola
7. Nigeria
8. Guinea
9. Zambia
10. Mali
11. Morocco
12. Senegal
13. South Africa
14. Namibia
15. Benin
16. Sudan


5 — Samuel Eto’o (Cameroun)

4 — Alberto Manucho (Angola)
4 — Hosni Abd Rabou (Egypt)
4 — Mohamed Aboutriaka (Egypt)
4 — Amr Zaki (Egypt)

3 — Salomon Kalou (Cote d’Ivoire)
3 — Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire)
3 — Soufiane Alloudi (Morocco)
3 — Junior Agogo (Ghana)
3 — Sulley Ali Muntari (Ghana)
3 — Abdelkader Keita (Cote d’Ivoire)

2 — Michael Essien (Ghana)
2 — Yakubu Ayigbeni ( Nigeria)
2 — Francileudo dos Santos (Tunisia)
2 — Joseph-Desire Job (Cameroun)
2 — Pascal Feindouno (Guinea)
2 — Mohamed Zidan (Egypt)
2 — Brian Brendell (Namibia)
2 — Christopher Katongo (Zambia)
2 — Stephane Mbia (Cameroun)
2 — Chouki Ben Saada (Tunisia)
2 — Geremi Njitap (Cameroun)
2 — Abubacar Sunogo (Cote d’Ivoire)

1 — Katlego Mphela (S. Africa)
1 — Amado Flavio (Angola)
1 — Abdoulaye Faye (Senegal)
1 — Achille Emana (Cameroun)
1 — Razak Omotoyossi (Benin)
1 — Aruna Dindane (Cote d’Ivoire)
1 — Gneri Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)
1 — Abdeslam Ouaddou (Morocco)
1 — Hicham Aboucherouane (Morocco)
1 — Ismael Bangoura (Guinea)
1 — Elrio Van Heerden (S. Africa)
1 — Mejdi Traoui (Tunisia)
1 — Diomansy Kamara (Senegal)
1 — Moustafa Sall (Senegal)
1 — Issam Jemaa (Tunisia)
1 — Felix Katongo (Zambia)
1 — Jacob Mulenga (Zambia)
1 — James Chamanga (Zambia)
1 — Frederic Kanoute (Mali)
1 — Salomon Kalou (Cote d’Ivoire)
1 — Monsef Zerka (Morocco)
1 — Tarik Sektioui (Morocco)
1 — Oumar Kalabane (Guinea)
1 — Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)
1 — Yakubu Alyegbeni (Nigeria)
1 — Jon Mikel Obi (Nigeria)

Own goal — Mohamed Al Khider (Sudan)
against Cameroun

Goals scored in
previous competitions

1998 : 93 goals (72 goals during group stages)
2004 : 88 goals (65 goals during group stages)
2000 : 73 goals (52 goals during stages)
2006 : 72 goals (47 goals during group stages)
2002 : 49 goals (35 goals during first round)

11 penalties, all scored

Cameroun : 3 (Samuel Eto'o)
Egypt : 3 (Hosny Abd Rabou)
Ghana : 1 (Asamoah Gyan)
Guinea : 1 (Pascal Feindouno)
Mali : 1 (Frederic Kanouté)
Morocco : 1 (Tarik Sektioui)
Nigeria : 1 (Yakubu Aiyegbeni)

Ghana - Guinea : Asamoah Gyan (55)
Morocco - Namibia : Tarik Sektioui (40)
Guinea - Morocco : Pascal Feindouno (62)
Mali - Benin : Frederic Kanouté (49)
Egypt - Cameroun : Hosny Abd Rabou (13)
Egypt - Cameroun : Samuel Eto'o (89)
Cameroun - Zambia : Samuel Eto'o (65)
Egypt - Sudan : Hosny Abd Rabou (29)
Cameroun - Sudan : Samuel Eto'o (27)
Ghana - Nigeria : Yakubu Aiyegbeni (34)
Egypt - Angola : Hosni Abd Rabou (23)

Monday, February 11, 2008


Year Winner

1957 Egypt
1959 Egypt
1962 Ethiopia
1963 Ghana
1965 Ghana
1968 Congo (Kinshasa)
1970 Sudan
1972 Congo (Brazzaville)
1974 Zaire
1976 Morocco
1978 Ghana
1980 Nigeria
1982 Ghana
1984 Cameroun
1986 Egypt
1988 Cameroun
1990 Algeria
1992 Cote d’Ivoire
1994 Nigeria
1996 South Africa
1998 Egypt
2000 Cameroun
2002 Cameroun
2004 Tunisia
2006 Egypt
2008 Egypt


Year Winner

1957 Egypt
1959 Egypt
1962 Ethiopia
1963 Ghana
1965 Ghana
1968 Congo (Kinshasa)
1970 Sudan
1972 Congo (Brazzaville)
1974 Zaire
1976 Morocco
1978 Ghana
1980 Nigeria
1982 Ghana
1984 Cameroun
1986 Egypt
1988 Cameroun
1990 Algeria
1992 Cote d’Ivoire
1994 Nigeria
1996 South Africa
1998 Egypt
2000 Cameroun
2002 Cameroun
2004 Tunisia
2006 Egypt
2008 Egypt

AND JOHN MENSAH WEPT ....As Black Stars pick bronze (1b)

Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi

AS tears flowed freely from skipper John Mensah, apparently for the Black Stars’ failure to win the ultimate prize, an ovation fit for heroes vibrated through the main bowl of the Baba Yara Sports Stadium as the national soccer team staged a splendid second half display to overcome the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire 4-2 to win the bronze medal at the 26th MTN Africa Cup of Nations.
While Mensah, who returned to action after a match suspension, would have wished to lift the coveted trophy, the fans had cause to celebrate the victory once the initial pain of the 0-1 loss to Cameroun in the semi-final had been rubbed by the massive score over the Ivorians.
Watched by some 38,000 spectators, the match brought out some fine football from both sides, and for the Black Stars in particular, who secured their biggest win in the tournament, it was a fitting reward for the fans who rooted solidly behind them even in times of difficulty.
Even while weeping, Mensah gathered some courage to lead the team to do a victory lap and say “thank you” to the fans who had turned out to support them.
French trainer, Claude Le Roy, was satisfied with the way his players played in the second half and exploded to fire in three goals after the Elephants had taken a 2-1 lead at half time.
Ghana raced into an early lead in the 10th minute when Sulley Ali Muntari, who had been fouled outside the box, elected himself for the kick. He produced a characteristic blistering left footer, the ball flying past everybody to hit the back of the net with power.
What a way to open the game, but the Ivorians had other ideas to fight back. They resorted to flighting long balls which blinded the Ghanaian back line and repeatedly the middle of the Black Stars defence flirted with trouble.
Werder Bremen striker, Boubacar Sanogo, and Chelsea’s Didier Drogba remained the biggest threat to the Ghanaians and when the defence appeared to have lost ideas, Richard Kingson’s heroics in the post manifested.
He blocked and fisted threatening balls, one of which saw Drogba embracing the agile goalie after he had denied Emerse Fae and Drogba himself in a two-fisted attack in the 30th minute.
Baffour Gyan, who paired Manuel Junior Agogo in attack for Ghana, was carried off the field following an injury on the quarter hour mark and was replaced by Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.
But it was Cote d’Ivoire whose attacks paid off.
It was in the 24th minute when Sanogo outran John Mensah from a long pass and squeezed the ball past advancing Kingson for the equaliser.
The stadium went dead silent except for the few drumming Ivorians who were heard.
The pair of Drogba and Sanogo continued the Ivorian charge, with massive support from Keita, Fae and N’dri Koffi in the middle.
Persistent pounding from the Elephants paid off again in the 32st minute when the dangerous Sanogo picked his spot well in the area to finish off an Ivorian attack, with Drogba in full attendance.
Danger loomed for the Ghanaians who needed a win baldly to appease their fans and Sanogo nearly punished them again with the third goal, but this time his shot went off the bar.
Obviously aware of the enormity of the task, the Black Stars resumed the game completely transformed and the attack, which had looked lightweight in the first half, turned heavyweight this time, while the defence sealed the holes.
The workaholic Michael Essien was all over, joining the attack with extraordinary speed and dexterity and withdrawing to tackle beautifully, while the MTN Man-of-the-Match, Anthony Annan, remained an excellent tackler and distributor of the ball.
It is not for nothing that Essien has reportedly recommended the former Hearts of Oak midfielder to Chelsea for recruitment. He was matchless in the centre and Le Roy said of him at the post match press conference, “ He is a fantastic player.”
With the Black Stars defence having virtually closed the doors to the Elephants, pressure mounted on the latter’s back line of Boka, Zoro, N’dri and Zokora, which eventually caved in on the 70th minute mark when Owusu-Abeyie scored a brilliant personal goal, outpacing the Ivorian defence to rifle the ball past Tiasse Kone in post.
The Ivorians regrouped to come into the game but lacked control and the magical touch to find a way past Paintsil, Sarpei, Mensah and Addo, who was later replaced by Barusso, following an injury.
Not ready to allow the Ghanaians to score again, coach Gerard Gili made two substitutions, pulling out the anonymous Kalou for Yao Kouassi and Keita for Yaya Toure, but the changes in no way subverted the Stars’ raids.
It was, therefore, not surprising when Agogo fetched the third goal for his side in the 80th minute, completing a brilliant move from his colleagues on the right.
But the Black Stars were not satisfied with the three goals and probed for more. Haminu Dramani produced a great goal, his first in the tournament, from some 25 yards in the 85th minute to silence some fans who had been calling for his substitution.
Asante Kotoko’s Harrison Afful was introduced into the game in the dying minutes and the Black Stars surged forward in a search for more goals, which never came, any way.
Ghana: Kingson, Paintsil, Sarpei, Addo/Barusso, Mensah, Annan, Dramani/Afful, Essien, Agogo, B. Gyan/Owusu-Abeyie, Muntari.
Cote d’Ivoire: Tiasse Kone, Boka, Zoro, Zokora, N’dri, Tiene, Fae, Kalou/Yao, Drogba, Sanogo, Keita/Yaya Toure.

21 Days of exciting Ghana 2008 over...IT'S EGYPT ...For a record sixth time (1a)

Story: Maurice Quansah

Call it a tale of two goalies, both agile on the day. One was inconsolable as he lay on the turf face down, while the other was on cloud nine after 90 minutes of football.
Cameroun goalie Carlos Idriss Kameni put up a magnificent show yesterday but failed to prevent Mohamed Aboutrika from scoring the goal that handed Egypt a 1-0 win and a record sixth Africa Cup of Nations title.
Egyptian goalie Essam El-Hadary had been spectacular throughout the tournament and yesterday he ensured that Cameroun’s attackers were kept at bay as he kept a clean sheet to win his second successive winners’ medal. At the height of his excitement, El-Hadary jumped and sat on the goal post while he savoured another historic achievement.
Egypt are African champions again for the sixth time, and in raising the bar of continental football excellence, the Pharaohs stopped the Indomitable Lions from achieving a record-equalling fifth title.
Abou Trika’s 76th minute goal tamed the Indomitable Lions who had displayed a big heart, soldiered on and roared into the final. But yesterday the Egyptians put up another a disciplined performance, just as they had done in their group clash on January 22.
Cameroun’s septuagenarian coach, Otto Pfister, and his veteran fighters had defied age and showed a strong will power in the march to yesterday’s final clash but youth and tactical discipline reigned when it mattered most.
Just as they did in their semi-final clash against Ghana, Cameroun soaked the pressure but at the most critical moment, Mohamed Zidan’s youthfulness reigned over the tired legs of Rigobert Song who fumbled with the ball and failed to make a timely clearance. Zidan, who had scored two breathtaking goals in Egypt’s 4-2 win over Cameroun in Kumasi, wrestled the ball from Song and squared a pass for Aboutrika to score what could be his most important goal and the tournament’s 99th.
A fitting reward it was for the aristocrats of Africa football who, on the day, enjoyed greater ball possession and the lion’s share of scoring chances. It was also a repeat of the 1986 final between the two sides when Egypt won their third continental trophy on home soil at the expense of Cameroun.
The Pharaohs looked the more organised and determined side to lift the trophy and they did just what was required to tame their ageing counterparts who refused to die until Aboutrika’s killer punch settled what has been described as the best Africa Cup of Nations tournament since 1957.
The Camerounians owe their first half survival much to the agility of goalkeeper Kameni who made several point-blank saves as the Egyptian attack went through the Lions’ defence much easier than was expected of the experienced and rugged defenders.
Aboutrieka underlined his status as one of the best players in Africa as he took control of the midfield, picking the ball from his half, running deep into the opponents’ half and creating scoring opportunities for himself and his team-mates.
The expected midfield battle between Aboutrieka and Cameroun’s Alexandre Song did not last long as Song was replaced early in the game after receiving a few knocks. His replacement, ginger-haired Augustin Binya, partnered Stephane Mbia to keep the Camerounian attacking machinery running.
Led in attack by three-time African Best Footballer, Samuel Eto’o, the Lions expected great things from the Barcelona striker. Twice in the 10th and 35th minutes Eto’o threatened to score but found goalkeeper El-Hadary unyielding in post.
It turned into a ding-dong battle, with Kameni making a save after save, while the Lions threatened sporadically. As the ageing Camerounian defenders — Skipper Rigobert Song, Thimothee Atouba, Geremi Njitap and Bill Tchato — found the Egyptian forward liners too swift, Kameni became the barrier that kept the Pharaohs from scoring. Kameni saved a seventh minute free kick and blocked Emad Mohammed’s shot from close range after a quick counter-attack by the Pharaohs who, seconds earlier, had nearly gone down after El-Hadary saved Geremi’s free kick.
Cameroun continued living dangerously and again needed a timely intervention by Kameni in the 36th minute to again deny Emad a goal after he had ghosted past Cameroun’s centre-backs, only to find in Kameni a barrier too high to scale.
Cameroun were not as indomitable as their name suggested; at best they looked more like cubs struggling to survive in the wild.
In the dying minutes of the game, Cameroun made desperate efforts to score. Eto’o often found himself surrounded by three markers, and with little help from his team-mates. When the attackers managed to get past their markers, El-Hadary was just too good on the day. He looked unruffled in post, even when the Camerounian defenders joined their front-line men in a desperate search for the equaliser.
Eto’o was virtually marked out and stripped of his terror and the only Cameroun threat came from substitute Mahamadou Iddrissou whose headers and shots went astray, much to their anguish but to the delight of the Egyptian fans and their Ghanaian supporters.
In the dying seconds of the game, Song almost atoned for his mistake when he rose to head Geremi’s measured cross but his header missed the crossbar by inches. It was too little, too late for them as Benin referee Koffi Codjia ended the game, amidst fanfare and a spectacular closing ceremony that heralded the coronation by President John Agyekum Kufuor of Africa’s football superpower.
It was their best performance in the tournament, but the Egyptians saved their best moment for yesterday at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium before a crowd of 35,000 that included FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter, CAF President Issa Hayatou and a world-wide TV audience of several hundreds of millions.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Article: Andrew Hush (ESPN)

THE dream final is still on in the Africa Cup of Nations after Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire successfully negotiated quarter-finals with performances at the opposite ends of the comfort extreme.
However, in winning their own last eight encounters, Egypt and Cameroun showed that they would have a major say in what happens next.
Though Ghana had been challenged in each of their three group matches, falling behind to Nigeria represented the most major threat to their Cup of Nations dreams to date. Against the run of play it may have been but Yakubu's penalty offered the Super Eagles further momentum to add to that which was generated by their improbable qualification for the knockout stages.
However, Ghana were able to fight back with an impressive team effort that featured impressive displays not only from Claude Le Roy’s stalwarts but also from a less-likely hero. Unsurprisingly, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari were the main inspirations but the tireless running and instinctive finishing of Junior Agogo was a further vital aspect of the Black Stars’ comeback.
A journeyman he may be, but Agogo’s latest stop on the footballing map is by far his most spectacular. The Nottingham Forest front man is limited in terms of technical ability when compared to the top strikers in the tournament but his willingness to work, as well as his impressive physical strengths, have made him an increasingly essential part of the Ghana effort.
However, as diligent as Agogo has been, Ghana remain hugely indebted to their majestic midfield duo. Having scored his first goal of the tournament against Morocco, Essien struck again against Nigeria with a header that owed much to his determination to join an attack from a deep-lying position. Often restricted by Chelsea's formation from forging forward, Essien's strikes in his home country have been timely reminders of the complete game he possesses.
Essien can defend too, as he showed late in the game when dropping deep to cover in defence following John Mensah's sending off. As he did, Muntari took on the attacking mantle in the dying moments of the match, showing commendable stamina and no little skill to burst beyond the Nigerian backline and lay the winning goal on a plate for Agogo.
The Black Stars' reserves of energy have been a consistent feature of their campaign. In each of their four games, Le Roy's side has scored in the closing minutes of a half. Against Nigeria, both Ghanaian goals came as time was set to expire, an impressive feat given the heat and humidity in Accra. The second was even more remarkable, given that Ghana were, by then, playing with 10 men.
For Nigeria, the quarter-final was an adequate reflection of a thoroughly disappointing tournament that may spell the end of Berti Vogt's reign as coach.
True, they showed some degree of character to make the quarterfinals at all after a near-disastrous start that gleaned them one point from their first two matches but the win over Benin proved to be another false dawn.
Yakubu's penalty gave Nigeria something to play for but the Super Eagles were unable to effectively defend what they had. Essien's header, though well-directed, was watched into the net by goalkeeper, Austin Ejide, while Agogo's winner was conceded despite Nigeria's numerical advantage. How the Ghanaian striker was able to stand unmarked at the far post awaiting Muntari's centre is a mystery.
As full-time approached and Ghana settled into a deep defensive alignment, Nigeria enjoyed the balance of possession but were unable to forge the chances from which the leveller would come. The closing moments were a bitter exposure of a team in some turmoil. While their African rivals can dream of Cup of Nations glory, Nigeria face an uncertain future that must begin with a wide-ranging evaluation of what went wrong in Ghana.
Next for Ghana is a Cameroun side that survived a wobble against Tunisia to pull through after extra time. Whether the resurgence of the Indomitable Lions will continue beyond the last four is questionable the extra 30 minutes will have taken a toll, plus Ghana have had an extra day of rest but there is no doubt that Cameroun have shown enough to suggest that this is a side that still has plenty to offer.
In addition to stalwarts such as Rigobert Song and Geremi using their veteran heads and Samuel Eto'o serving as a lynchpin up front, Otto Pfister has seen a number of less experienced Lions emerge in the games since Cameroun were humbled 4-2 by Egypt.
Stephane Mbia has played in a number of positions in defence and midfield for his club side, Rennes, but it was in an attacking role that the 21-year-old made an international breakthrough against Tunisia. Entering the tournament with just a handful of international caps, Mbia has seized his opportunity and his instinctive strikes in the quarterfinal have made him irreplaceable.
In midfield, Alexandre Song has been a consistent performer, adding an extra layer of security to a defence that, though improving, remains capable of implosion. Never was that more emphasised than against Tunisia, when a two-goal advantage was squandered. The equaliser, in particular, will have concerned Pfister, who watched as Yassine Chikhaoui was able to score despite being outnumbered in the penalty area by green shirts.
One area in which Cameroun certainly held an edge over Tunisia was in goal. Indeed, in Carlos Kameni, the Indomitable Lions have one of the best keepers in the tournament. Confident dealing with the high ball, the Espanyol number one is also an excellent shot-stopper, whose best save of the quarter-final came in the first half when a fantastic reflex save denied Chouki Ben Saada, who had halved Cameroun's deficit moments earlier.
In Hamdi Kasraoui, meanwhile, Tunisia had a goalkeeper who was badly at fault for Mbia's first goal, after he missed a Song cross. Geremi's free-kick would have beaten many a goalkeeper but Kasraoui was at fault again for Cameroun's winner when neither he nor the defence in front of him dealt adequately with a throw-in that led to Joel Epalle's flick-on, allowing Mbia to pounce again.
Tunisia leave Ghana with mixed memories. On the plus side, Roger Lemerre's side displayed character to fight back in games in which they trailed. However, with the exception of a dominant display against a weak South African side, this was not an impressive performance from the 2004 champions, who will hope that their current phase of transition is complete by the time of qualifying for the 2010 Cup of Nations and World Cup begins.
As their quarter-final against Guinea entered its 70th minute, Cote d’Ivoire held a slender 1-0 lead over a gutsy Guinea side that was battling hard to keep the encounter tight. Over the final 20 minutes of the match in Sekondi, however, they tagged on four goals in almost effortless fashion. Gerard Gili's side are favourites for the Cup of Nations and, for the fourth straight game, they proved why.
One set of Elephants stampeded another in a display that was based on excellent team cohesion, as well as individual flair that made Cote d’Ivoire a contender to score a goal at any time and from any part of the field. The team's 11 goals have been shared among eight players, meaning that even if talisman Didier Drogba has an off day, the slack will more than likely be picked up by his teammates.
As pleased as he will no doubt be with his side's offensive output, Gili will likely be even more content with the way his backline is performing. Concerns that the absence of Kolo Toure and the reshuffling that was required as a result of the Arsenal man's groin injury would expose a weak point have so far been unjustified.
However, before Cote d’Ivoire are crowned, it must be said that in Guinea they faced an opponent under equipped to challenge at this stage of the tournament. A 3-2 win over Morocco was essentially the reason for Guinea's advancement beyond the group stage. Though they pushed Ghana hard for a time, this was a side that was playing with house money in the quarter-finals.
The team selection of Guinea coach, Robert Nouzaret, was restricted by the absence of two key men. Pascal Feinduno was serving the second game suspension incurred for his sending off against Morocco, while Celtic defender, Bobo Balde, was sorely missed in central defence.
His hand forced, Nouzaret handed starts to two 19-year-olds, Mohamed Sakho and Mamadou Bah. The coach, who has twice been in charge of Cote d’Ivoire, admitted after the game that the responsibility for the 'thrashing' lay solely with him. He had hoped to catch lightning in a bottle but from the moment goalkeeper Kemoko Camara allowed Kader Keita's shot inside his near post, the shock was never on.
Facing Cote d’Ivoire in the last four will be Egypt, the defending champions. The match-up is a repeat of the 2006 final which the Pharaohs took on home soil, 4-2 on penalties. The Elephants will start as favourites this time, but must take nothing for granted against an Egyptian side that has depth and solidity and which has shown a happy knack for maintaining leads.
Other than their semi-final opponent, only Egypt have yet to trail in the 2008 Cup of Nations. Though their margins of victory have not been as great as those of Cote d’Ivoire, Hassan Shetaha's side has shown an ability to keep opponents at bay based on a tried and trusted method that incorporates defensive depth and precise counter-attacking.
In all four of their games, Egypt have scored first, three times from the penalty spot through the nerveless Hosny Abd Rabo. Against Angola, they were pegged back almost immediately but then retook the lead that, with one or two exceptions, they rarely looked like ceding.
Further indications of Egypt's strength of squad came against Angola. It seems like a long time since Mohamed Zidan announced himself to the tournament by firing two goals against Cameroon. The Hamburg striker has not found the net since and missed the quarterfinal through injury.
In his place, however, and without their Cup of Nations veteran, Ahmed Hassan, Egypt have managed to cope. Two years ago, Amr Zaki came off the bench in the semi-final against Senegal to score the winner before converting a penalty in the shootout that settled the final. In 2008, Zaki is showing signs of being a lucky charm once again. Having scored against Namibia, the 24-year-old doubled his tally with the winner in the quarter-final.
Egypt's win was deserved, though Angola will feel a little aggrieved to be homeward bound. Palancas Negras were one of the revelations of the tournament, with Manchester United-bound striker, Manucho, proving to be a star in the making. Premier League fans will have to wait until next season to see him - he will play at Panathinaikos on loan, while awaiting a work permit - but their appetite has been whetted by a variety of goals, the best of which was an outstanding left-footed strike against Egypt.
With Flavio and Ze Kalanga alongside him, Manucho led an Angola forward line that was a constant threat to opponents. Alas, the defence that played behind them provided no such challenge. A soft penalty whilst defending a free-kick gave Egypt the start they needed while, following their leveller, slack Angolan marking left Zaky open to divert the ball home for what would prove to be the winner. In goal, Lama was impressive but was tested, in truth, too often.
And so the Cup of Nations field is down to four teams, each of which has the capability to win two games and secure the trophy. Ghana versus Cote d’Ivoire remains the most likely final but Egypt and Cameroun have done enough to suggest they could be playing in Accra on Sunday. No matter who arrives there, the journey is sure to be exciting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


(Guardian of Nigeria)

THE Nigerian national football team, the Super Eagles, recently rechristened the "Super Chickens", because of a poor run in the on-going MTN Nations Cup ended their hope yesterday of a qualification for a semi-final berth as they were beaten 2-1 by 10-man Ghanaian team at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra, Ghana.
The Eagles started the campaign on a poor note losing their first game to Cote d'Ivoire. They drew against Mali, and struggled to beat minnow Benin Republic 2-0. The Eagles have never had it this bad. They had to rely on the Ivoiriens to beat Mali before they could qualify for the quarter-finals.
Going by the rivalry between the Eagles and the Black Stars, the match was expected to be a heated West African derby, and it started that way as Muntari found himself on the end of a foul from Obinna Nwaneri just after kickoff, resulting in a small amount of "handbags."
But while it was physical, it wasn't gung-ho, at least to start with. Indeed, with so much at stake, neither side was apt to take undue risks.
It took a quarter of an hour for the first real chance to emerge, with Muntari playing a fine ball across goal, only for Yobo to clear it. 10 minutes later, though, it all kicked off.
After some fine play, Michael Essien hit the post on the 25-minute mark after a tremendous give-and-go with Asamoah Gyan.
Then, Junior Agogo had a great chance just a minute later as Ghana turned the screw. He, however, could only see his effort tipped wide by Ejide.
It was quite a strong spell for Ghana, but Nigeria showed that they are no makeweights by hitting back. Yakubu almost managed to go one on one with Kingston, before he turned provider by slipping a through ball to Getafe's Ikechukwu Uche. Despite the latter's great run, the finish was poor, and it stayed 0-0.
At least for a minute, for no sooner had that chance been mopped up than Addo conceded a penalty, apparently for shirt pulling against Yakubu. The Everton man himself stepped up and duly netted it, and suddenly Ghana are in trouble.
Indeed, Nigeria looked the stronger side going into half time, with Uche and Yakubu linking up well, but Ghana's undoubted class shone through right on the stroke of half time.
That's when Michael Essien grabbed an equaliser. The Chelsea man both placed and powered a header after Owusu-Abeyie's cross to level the scores.
Right after the break, Obi Mikel attempted to show his teammate how it was done, almost capitalising on Uche's through ball - and some poor defending - only for Kingston to smother the ball at the last second.
That error reminded both teams that risks were inappropriate, and the game slowed down - at least until the hour mark.
For Ghana was down to 10 men just then, John Mensah preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity by fouling Odemwingie just outside the box.
Taye Taiwo came inches away from opening the scoring from the ensuing free-kick, with Kingston's last-gasp save keeping his side in it.
His near-namesake Laryea Kingston joined the fray in place of Asamoah, dropping back to midfield and in turn allowing Essien to take a place in defence.
Strangely enough, that seemed to lend a bit more shape to the Ghanaians, and certainly more steel. Spurred on by Essien's encouragement, they closed down the Nigerians with gusto, albeit sometimes a bit too much.
For things were beginning to get a bit heated - admittedly, for both sides. In one incident 15 minutes from time, Obi Mikel picked up a booking after hacking down Annan, only for Annan to raise his hands to the Chelsea star.
In terms of play, though, Ghana had one great chance through Agogo 10 minutes from time, only for the Nottingham Forest man to fluff his finish at the last second.
That made it all the more surprising when he was the man to give his side a lead seven minutes from the end. Muntari's low cross found the predatory forward lingering at the far post, and Agogo was so delighted with his close-range effort that his overcelebration was deemed worthy of a booking.
On came Nsofor for Mikel as Nigeria's boss, Berti Vogts, rolled the dice, and Nigeria poured forward. Shittu did well to float a cross in two minutes from time, only for Muntari, dropping back to defend, to head clear.
But other than a couple more half-chances from corners, the wealth of Nigerian bodies pressing forward could provide little - indeed, Nigeria needed Ghana to give them one last hope by conceding a free-kick 25 yards out two minutes into stoppage time.
The ball eventually reached Yobo in the box, but his finish was lacking, and the match ended with the hosts in a state of ecstasy.

(Daily Champion of Nigeria)

IT was the end of the road for the Super Eagles in the 2008 Nations Cup as they lost 1-2 to hosts, Black Stars of Ghana in a quarterfinal match yesterday at the Accra Stadium, Ghana.
The rivalry between the two teams was on display throughout the pulsating encounter.
The Black Stars dominated play for the earlier part of the game, pushing the Eagles into defensive as they searched for the leader. However, Nigeria’s defence reacted effectively to their offensive as Danny Shittu and Yobo Joseph kept the rampaging Stars at bay.
A combination of Osaze Odenwingie and Ikechukwu Uche in the wings propelled Nigeria’s attack creating anxious moments in Ghana’s goal area, but lack of fire power saved the Stars from conceding early goals.
Nigeria got the leader in the 34th minute from a spot kick when Yakubu Aiyegbeni was hacked down in the box. Aiyegbeni neatly tucked the ball into far right of the net to send Nigerian fans to a frenzy celebration.
Like wounded Lions, Black Stars fought back, but Eagles rose to the challenge once again with Mikel Obi holding firm in the midfield.
As the time ticks away to the end of the first half, Ghana intensified their search for equaliser forcing the Eagles to a frantic defensive play. But Michael Essien gave Ghana a big relief with a dramatic header that deceptively hit the upright and rolled into Niegria’s net at the nick of 45th minute.
Ghana resumed the second half with an aggressive approach which resulted into some physical play which earned John Mensah a red card.
The Black Stars came from behind to earn a semi-final place with victory over Nigeria in a game full of drama.
Ghana were down for the first time in the tournament, and faced a huge test of character.
The ball went in off the left post, and trickled along the goal line before going in.
The atmosphere at half-time was astonishing, with Ghana fans celebrating as if they had won the Nations Cup itself.
But Ghana remained in the ascendancy overall, with the crowd roaring on their every move.

(Daily Sun of Nigeria)

A 10-MAN Black Stars of Ghana came from behind to claim victory over Nigeria in a game full of drama and tension.
Nigeria took the lead on 34 minutes through a Yakubu Aiyegbeni penalty, but Michael Essien's glancing header put the Black Stars level on the stroke of half-time.
Ghana were reduced to 10 men on the hour, as captain John Mensah was sent off for a professional foul.
With eight minutes remaining, Junior Agogo put Ghana into the semi-finals with a close-range finish.
Ghana had the upper hand for most of the first half, which was a scrappy, physical affair.
The first clear chance fell to Nigeria on 11 minutes, when winger Ikechukwu Uche went on a bustling run and set-up Yakubu, who fired wide.
Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo almost put the ball in his own net three minutes later, as he cut out a Sulley Muntari cross.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan hit the post with a left-footer on 25 minutes, and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's lively play persistently troubled Nigeria.
The Black Stars were still on top when they conceded the penalty, when Eric Addo pulled Yakubu down.
The Everton striker stroked the spot-kick into the bottom-left corner, with Richard Kingson going the right way.
Ghana were down for the first time in the tournament, and faced a huge test of character.
The equaliser came with the last move of the first period, when Owusu's cross was met with a glancing header by Essien.
The ball went in off the left post, and wobbled along the goal line before going in.
The atmosphere at half-time was astonishing, with Ghana fans celebrating as if they had won the Nations Cup itself.
Nigeria came very close three minutes after the break, a 40-yard lob by Uche was pushed over the bar by a back-pedalling Kingson.
But Ghana remained in the ascendancy overall, with the crowd roaring on their every move.
The drama heightened when Mensah was sent off in the 60th minute for clipping down Osaze Odemwingie as he raced towards the penalty area.
Three Nigeria efforts were stopped from the resulting free-kick, but the Super Eagles failed to capitalise on their numerical advantages.
Ghana resisted the temptation to play for extra time and penalties, and the winner came on 82 minutes.
Muntari crossed inside the box to the unmarked Agogo, who finished from four yards out.
Nigeria were unable to respond, and Ghana beat them for only the second time at the Nations Cup, in what was a memorable match.

(Tibune of Nigeria)

FOR the second time within 12 months, Frenchman, Claude LeRoy led the Black Stars of Ghana to beat the Super Eagles, sending the Nigerian side out of the ongoing Ghana 2008 Nations Cup.
The Stars came from behind to beat the Eagles 2-1 in the tension-soaked match in which the Ghanaian team played one man short for more than 32 minutes after captain, John Mensah, got the Algerian referee’s marching order for a professional foul on Osaze Odemwingie.
The Eagles took the lead on 34 minutes through a penalty scored by Yakubu Aiyegbeni after he was pulled down by Eric Addo, but Michael Essien equalised on the dot of 45 minute.
With eight minutes to the end of the game, Junior Agogo put Ghana into the semi-finals with a close-range finish. LeRoy had last February led the Ghanaian side to drub the Eagles 4-1 in an international friendly played at Brentford Stadium in London.
The Frenchman, who beat Nigeria with Cameroun in the final of Maroc ’88, said after the match that his side had the quality which it put into use against Nigeria.
“There’s great team spirit in my side, and I believe they used the quality to go all the way against the Super Eagles,” LeRoy told journalists after the match.

(Business Day of Nigeria)

GHANA had one man sent off but still moved a step closer to a record-equalling fifth African Nations Cup title with a thrilling 2-1 quarter final success over Nigeria in Accra last night.
Yakubu Ayegbeni put Nigeria into the lead with a penalty only for Michael Essien to level just before the interval.
Ghana captain John Mensah was sent off in the second half but this did not stop the hosts as Nottingham Forest’s Junior Agogo produced the late winner.
“I’m so proud to be the Ghana coach, congratulations to them all,” the team’s French coach Claude le Roy said. But he questioned the referee’s decision in sending off Mensah.
Nigeria coach Berti Vogts said his team could go home with their heads held high.
Ghana’s President, John Kufuor, was part of the raucous 45,000 capacity crowd as Nigeria’s Taye Taiwo picked up the first booking for dissent, with team-mate Obinna Nwaneri the next to catch Algerian referee Mohamed Benouza’s eye when hacking down Hans Sarpei. Ghana defender John Paintsil was instrumental in Nigeria taking the lead against the run of play when he fouled Uche in the 33rd minute.
Benouza pointed to the spot and Ayegbeni stepped up to fire low and left past Birmingham City keeper Richard Kingston.
This was the first time in the tournament that Ghana had fallen behind but it did not take them long to restore parity, with Essien heading home Muntari’s teaser in first-half injury time.
On the hour Ghana suffered a huge setback with Mensah sent off for a professional foul: clipping the heels of Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie. Le Roy then shuffled his pack, replacing the subdued attacker Gyan with Kingston in midfield.
Agogo got his just reward for some spirited charges at the Nigerian defence when he bagged Ghana’s winner, firing home Muntari’s low cross.

(Guardian of London)

BERTI Vogts came close to concocting a winning formula and Nigeria came close to pooping their biggest rivals' party. But, in the end, Vogts's plan unravelled just as it seemed certain to succeed and the Super Eagles fly home knowing they could have evicted their hosts.
Vogts began with a 4-3-2-1 formation that blunted the Black Stars. The midfield trio marshalled by Obi John Mikel left Michael Essien and Anthony Annan chasing air. Further forward, the zest and dazzle of Ikechukwu Uche and, in particular, Peter Odemwingie tormented a Ghanaian defence made to seem stodgy and Ayegbeni Yakubu offered a powerful and intelligent pivot.
With their defence comfortably containing the maladroit Junior Agogo and Asamoah Gyan, the Super Eagles were superior in every sector of the game, by far the more fluid side. The absence of Stephen Appiah was achingly apparent and Ghana's only real threat in the early stages was Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, whose jinks and jiggles befuddled the full-backs - but too frequently his team-mates found his passing just as difficult to read.
Essien was having a stinker. When he could get on the ball his touch was treacherous and his distribution wayward. In what looked like being a reversal of last year's friendly in Brentford - when Essien lorded it over Mikel and the Black Stars battered Nigeria 4-1 - Mikel was clearly on top of the battle of the Chelsea team-mates.
For all his class, however, Mikel lack assertiveness (though not aggression). In a spellbinding bout of possession just before the half-hour mark, he orchestrated a sequence of flicks and one-touch passes that Ghana simply didn't look capable of - however, the move lacked purpose: keeping possession is all very well but Mikel seemed too satisfied with that, not bold enough to drive towards a target.
Fittingly, it was immediately after that spell of snappy but aimless passing that Essien sprung into action - as if riled by Mikel's delicate dithering, he seized the ball in his own half and simply stormed towards the Nigerian box before teeing up Gyan. The striker took the ball in his stride and smashed it against the outside of the post.
Moments later Agogo would have opened the scoring but botched his first touch. Nonetheless, when Nigeria found the net three mintues later, their lead was deserved. The Algerian referee could already have awarded Nigeria a penalty and several dangerous free-kicks but instead constantly penalised Odemwingie rather than the home defence he was bamboozling. When John Mensah wrestled him to the ground in the 31st minute, it was a Ghanaian foul too far. After Yakubu converted the penalty, Ghana seemed to be on their way out. Indeed, the shot that Essien pumped yards wide two mintues later looked not so much like the harbinger of a revival but the symptom of a dearth of better ideas
You don't often see referees allocate three minutes of additional time at the end of the first half (though they frequently should) but that's what Mohamed Benouza did and Ghana were soon to be grateful. Because at a time when most officials would have already signalled a break, Sulley Muntari swung a cross into the centre and Essien, surging between the centre-backs, planted a header in off the post. The Ohene Djan Stadium bounced throughout the interval as the Black Stars' fans exulted. But after the resumption it quickly became clear that Nigeria were still the more coherent unit. Ghana suffered from awkward spaces between their various components and looked like they were trying to advance by missing out a step.
On the hour mark, Nigeria tore through Ghana's middle and Odemwingie, collecting a clever through-ball, cut in front of Mensah. Ghana's captain chopped the Nigerian down and deservedly saw red. From the resultant free-kick Taye Taiwo unleashed a trademark thunderbolt and Richard Kingson saved superbly.
It was then that Vogts's limitations came to the fore. With Ghana down to 10 men and Essien drafted into defence, the circumstances were changed utterly - but Vogts neglected to react accordingly. Afterwards he said he instructed his players simply "to attack, to keep on going". That wooliness failed to address the fact that the expulsion compelled Ghana to find extra steel.
"After the red card we went into a huddle and said 'we now have big responsibilities to our country'," explained Muntari. "We told each other to make sure we were big enough to handle them."
The Ghanaian players' resolve, perhaps epitomised most by Agogo, who, though now alone up front, suddenly transformed himself into a rampaging menace, was matched by that of their manager. Claude Leroy's changes were audacious. And effective.
Gyan was withdrawn and Laryea Kingston introduced in the middle, where he contributed creativity. Quincy was replaced by Haminu Dramani, whose entrance was greeted with suspicion by the crowd. The winger's first touch gave an indication why - after mis-controlling the ball he ran to retrieve it but instead headed it straight out of play.
His second touch, however, ignited the fans and his team-mates. Showing the directness Quincy so often spurned, he simply skinned Obinna Nwaneri and fired the ball into the middle, only for brave blocks by Yobo and Danny Shittu to keep Ghana at bay.
Ghana kept coming and Vogts still did nothing. On 81 minutes Dramani again drove towards the box and this time fed Muntari, whose shot-cum-cross was hammered into the net by Agogo.
Now, at least, Vogts reacted. But his switch to a desperate 4-2-4 simply ensured Ghana maintained their newfound dominion in the middle. The Black Stars were so sure Nigeria hand been neutered that Kingston and Hansu Adu Sarpei decided to entertain the crowd by each juggling the ball before flipping it provocatively over Taiwo's head. The ball then came to Muntari on the far side and he got into the spirit of things by nutmegging Obinna. Three mintues to go and the Ghanaian party had begun. By the look and sound of things around Accra now, it's not going to stop any time soon.

(The Independent of London)

THE Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo sent 10-man Ghana into the African Nations Cup semi-finals when his late goal gave the hosts a 2-1 victory over Nigeria yesterday.
An exhausted Agogo, who struggled through the second half with tiredness, was on hand to tap in virtually on the goalline after Sulley Muntari had squeezed a square pass through the Nigeria defence with eight minutes remaining. Yakubu had given Nigeria the lead in the quarter-final in Accra with a 35th-minute penalty only for the Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien to equalise with a fine header on the stroke of half-time.
Tournament hosts Ghana will meet either Tunisia or Cameroun, who play today, in Thursday's semi-final in Accra.
In yesterday's other quarter-final, Chelsea strikers Salomon Kalou, with two, and Didier Drogba were both on the scoresheet as favourites Ivory Coast hammered Guinea 5-0 to make it through to the semi-finals.
Abdelkader Keita put the Elephants ahead in the first half, but the result was not wrapped up until midway through the second when the Chelsea duo struck before Baki Kone also scored four minutes from time.
Ivory Coast will meet the winners of today's first quarter-final between Angola and Egypt in the last four.
Agogo's winner came 20 minutes after Ghana had been reduced to 10 men with the sending off of their captain John Mensah. The central defender was shown a red card for a professional foul on Peter Odemwingie on the edge of Ghana's penalty area. Mensah will miss the semi-final.
Nigeria took the lead 10 minutes from half-time when Eric Addo brought down Yakubu with a rugby-style tackle. The Everton striker converted from the spot for only the third goal in their four matches by a disappointing Nigeria.
Essien put Ghana level when he powered home a header from Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's free-kick.
"It's a fantastic team effort, they are really 11 heroes," said Claude Le Roy, the Ghana coach. "We took a risk not to change our formation and bring on a defender after Mensah had been sent off but we wanted to keep attacking."
The Nigeria coach, Berti Vogts said Ghana had shown more experience at crucial times in the match. "We made one or two mistakes and that is not allowed in international football. I'm very disappointed," he said.
It was the first time in five Nations Cup tournaments that Nigeria have failed to reach the last four.


GHANA-Nigeria is never just an ordinary football match, and the opening quarter final at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2008 certainly lived up to its billing. It was a long Sunday in Accra, with the city torn between good-natured enjoyment and a real footballing rivalry.
The build-up to this match began as soon as the first round finished in the capital, when it became clear to Ghanaian supporters that their Nigerian neighbours were the next team standing in their way of the title. "We're going to win, I know it," said Ujin the taxi driver on Friday. "These Eagles haven't been Super for a few years now, and we're at home. The main objective isn't this match, it's the trophy."
And on Sunday morning, the whole country awoke with stars in their eyes - Black Stars of course. At every set of traffic lights a swarm of street vendors descended on cars, selling flags, caps and t-shirts all in Ghanaian colours, while the decibel level on the approach to the stadium grew steadily higher.
The 410 kilometres which separate the Nigerian capital Lagos from Accra certainly did not discourage away fans from making the journey. The surrounding streets were awash with fans bedecked in green and white, dancing to the incessant music a good four hours before kick-off. The West African derby may be fiercely contested but animosity is certainly not the order of the day.
As you would expect, thousands of fans are painted from head to toe in Ghanaian colours, the air filled with the scent of beef kebabs and fufu, a local delicacy. People sway to the rhythm of the reggae music and everyone seems to have a smile on their faces - after all, this is a family occasion. "3 February 2008 is a great day - one of the greatest in our history," the public announcer tells the stadium. Claude Le Roy builds up the expectation levels even more as he "high fives" each of his players at the end of the warm-up.
After a dignified silence during the Nigerian national anthem, the volume is cranked up to ear-drum bursting proportions when it is Ghana's turn. Those in charge of the music in the stadium have to turn up the sound to the absolute maximum in a vain attempt to make the music audible over the singing.
The Nigerians are quiet until the 35th minute, when Yakubu Ayegbeni opens the scoring and silences the home fans. The "clap-claps" - cunningly given away free by local sponsors of the tournament - soon start up again however, and even the policemen in the stadium start dancing after Michael Essien equalises in first-half injury time. Ghana still have a long way to go but the tide has definitely turned.
With the crowd behind them, Claude Le Roy's men start to press and it seems that nothing can stop them, not even the sending-off of their captain John Mensah. With extra time looming, Junior Agogo finally bags the winner to the delight of a whole nation.
After the final whistle, the Black Stars embark on a well deserved lap of honour and even their French coach, usually so reserved, is overcome by the moment, tossing the squad's spare shirts into the crowd. Everyone is celebrating, even injured star player Stephen Appiah, wearing his colours by the side of the pitch.
“Any time Nigeria play in a tournament, Ghana disappear," a Super Eagles fan had told us before the match, but tonight, the car horns will be sounding deep into the night in Accra... When the players get off the team bus, there are scenes of absolute elation among the supporters. Dozens of youngsters chase after the coach, the streets are packed and all of Ghana seems to be dancing and singing. The dream is getting closer...


GHANA came from behind to earn a semi-final place with victory over Nigeria in a game full of drama.
Nigeria took the lead on 34 minutes through a Yakubu penalty, but Michael Essien's glancing header put the Black Stars level on the stroke of half-time.
Ghana were reduced to 10 men on the hour, as captain John Mensah was sent off for a professional foul.
But Ghana continued to attack, and with eight minutes remaining, Junior Agogo's close-range finish gave them victory.
Ghana had the upper hand for most of the first half, which was a scrappy, physical affair.
The first clear chance fell to Nigeria on 11 minutes when winger Ikechukwu Uche went on a bustling run and set up Yakubu, who fired wide.
Nigeria defender Joseph Yobo almost put the ball in his own net three minutes later, as he cut out a Sulley Muntari cross.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan hit the post with a left-footer on 25 minutes, and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's lively play persistently troubled Nigeria.
The Black Stars were still on top when they conceded the penalty, Eric Addo pulling Yakubu down.
The Everton striker stroked the spot-kick into the bottom-left corner, with Richard Kingson going the right way
Ghana were down for the first time in the tournament, and faced a huge test of character.
The equaliser came with the last move of the first period, Owusu's cross was met with a glancing header by Essien.
The ball went in off the left post, and trickled along the goal line before going in.
The atmosphere at half-time was astonishing, with Ghana fans celebrating as if they had won the Nations Cup itself.
Nigeria came very close three minutes after the break, a 40-yard lob by Uche was pushed over the bar by a back-pedalling Kingson.
But Ghana remained in the ascendancy overall, with the crowd roaring on their every move.
The drama heightened when Mensah was sent off in the 60th minute for clipping down Osaze Odemwingie as he raced towards the penalty area.
Three Nigeria efforts were stopped from the resulting free-kick, but the Super Eagles failed to capitalise of their numerical advantage.
Ghana resisted the temptation to play for extra time and penalties, and the winner came on 82 minutes.
Muntari crossed inside the box to the unmarked Agogo, who finished from four yards out.
Nigeria were unable to respond, and Ghana beat them for only the second time at the Nations Cup, in what was a memorable match.

And the fans sang in unison: To God be the glory...AGO-GOAL!...10-man Black Stars send Nigeria packing (Monday Feb. 4, 2008)

Story: Michael Quaye

AN outstanding show of courage and resilience propelled Ghana's Black Stars on to a 2-1 victory over Nigeria's Super Eagles, and into the semi-finals of the ongoing Ghana 2008 football tournament.
It was an amazing comeback written by the Black Stars who fell behind for the first time in the match, lost one man with 30 minutes to play and grabbed the winner late to leave Nigeria coach, German Berti Vogts, pondering over his future on his first job in Africa.
Despite Manuel Junior Agogo winning the day for the Stars, the plaudits went to Sulley Ali Muntari for his vision and courage in running with the ball and providing the killer pass that made the difference with just seven minutes remaining. Muntari won the Man-of-the-Match award.
It was a day of mixed fate for the Black Stars, but the hard-in-coming victory, even if ultimately considered pyrrhic, was savoured with passion across Ghana as fans woke to the reality of an approaching possibility of hosting and winning the cup for a fifth time.
First, the Ghanaians fell behind the Nigerians through a penalty, and when they were level, a red card cost them defensive pillar, John Mensah. But the remarkable display of a willing spirit, underpinned by the urge from the nearly 40,000 fans at the stadium to perform without failing,
forced the Stars into an all-gun-blazing battle with the Eagles and still emerged triumphant.
Ghana's French coach Claude Le Roy aside, none other than John Mensah could be more relieved by the Stars’ victory. Spotted for the infringement on Ukechukwu Uche that resulted in the 35th minute penalty from which Yakubu Ayegbeni put Nigeria ahead, Mensah did not only kill the menacing run of the brilliant Peter Odemwingie, but curtailed his own role in the game with a tackle that must have led to a near-seizeure of many Ghanaian hearts on the 60th minute.
As he walked off to some cheers from the crowd, Mensah removed his jerseyu and threw it on the field in frustration at the difficulty he had plunged his colleagues, and a section of the crowd backed him when they threw objects onto the field in apparent protest at the decision.
In between the incidents, Michael Essien revived life among the crowd with a clinical finish to Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's cross on the stroke of half-time. And the celebrations began without restraint as Ghana came level.
But the Eagles maintained their quick play in attack until Mensah was forced to commit the difficult choice of fouling the threatening Odemwingie from behind.
In a truly cagey tie full of tension, skills, tactics and abundant quality, only the result could separate the two sides at the end.
For, while Ghana dominated with a near-perfect passing game, the Nigerians stuck to a tight game plan that virtually neutralised Essien's influence, as Obi stayed hugely in control of a Super Eagles orchestra that played with outstanding harmony.
And with Essien largely anonymous, Stars coach Claude Le Roy was handed the difficult job of re-arranging his men following Mensah's exit.
Laryea Kingston's entry as the French coach sacrificed Asamoah Gyan was hardly effective as his wild crosses either went wide or had lone ranger Manuel Junior Agogo racing in vain.
But the willing Stars hardly showed any inadequacy despite Mensah's red card,
as the combative Anthony Annan — my man-of-the-match — battled the
giants in Mikel Obi and George Olofinjana in midfield until victory was achieved.
Ghana: Richard Kingson, John Paintsil, Hans Adu Sarpei, Eric Addo, John Mensah, Anthony Annan, Quincy Owusu Abeyei/Haminu Draman, Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan/Laryea Kingston, Junior Agogo, Sulley Ali Muntari.  
Nigeria: Austine Ejide, Joseph Yobo, Taiwo Taye, Obinna Nwaneri, Daniel Shittu, John Mikel Obi, Yakubu Ayigbeni, Peter Odemwingie, George Olofinjana, Ikechukwu Uche, Paul Etuhu/Richard Eromoigbe.

Sunday, February 3, 2008



Family relationships have found practical expression at the Africa Cup of Nations since its inception, and at Ghana 2008, some famous siblings have been at the centre of their team's build-up to the finals.
Tomorrow's quarter-final match between Ghana and Nigeria will see the Black Stars fielding the Kingson (or Kingston) brothers, goalkeeper Richard Kingson and his younger brother Laryea, who curiously bears the surname Kingston.
The brothers' act on the Ghanaian side will be played out by coach Claude Le Roy's first choice striker Asamoah Gyan, who scored the tournament's first goal, and his elder brother Baffour. As if by design, each time Baffour was introduced into the game at the group stage, he was a replacement for Asamoah.
Similar family affairs have played out in the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire, Zambia's Chipolopolo and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun.
The Ivorians have a stronger family with centre back Kolo Toure and his younger brother Yaya of Spanish giants Barcelona, who are both key members of Coach Gerard Gili's squad, just as the Kone brothers, striker Arouna and midfielder Bakare.
Four-time African champions, Cameroun, were once noted for the outstanding performance of the Biyik brothers, striker Francois Oman Biyik and his younger brother Andre Kana Biyik. However, at Ghana 2008, the Indomitable Lions are singing a new 'song', with the team captained by dreadlocks defender Rigobert Song, who makes his seventh successive Cup of Nations appearance. His 21-year-old nephew, Alexandre, who also sports dreadlocks, is the midfield pillar of the Lions team.
The Chipolopolos may have been eliminated at the group stage but the Katongo brothers were crucial to the team's impressive performance in Group C.
The Katongo brothers accounted for three of Zambia's five goals in the tournament. Skipper Christopher Katongo scored twice, his first goal coming in Zambia's 1-5 demolition by Cameroun, and also scored a decisive late equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Egypt in their last group match. His younger brother, Felix, was on target in Zambia's 3-0 victory over The Sudan in Kumasi.
Family affairs have played out in previous Cup of Nations tournaments.
Prominent siblings in recent times include the Egyptian twins, Hossam Hassan and Ibrahim Hassan, both of whom won the Cup of Nations for the Pharaohs a decade ago in Burkina Faso.
At 42, Hossam is still a part of the Pharaohs team at Ghana 2008 but his brother Ibrahim has retired.
At the 1994 tournament in Tunisia, three-time African Best Player, Abedi Ayew Pele, captained the Ghana team that included his younger brother Kwame, and the two reunited two years later in South Africa.
The squad also featured centre back Joseph Addo and his younger brother Simon, who was in post for the Black Stars.



THROUGH no fault of his, Andre 'Dede' Ayew has been under media spotlight as he bids to follow his father's footsteps as the son of the legendary Abedi Pele Ayew, easily Ghana's most celebrated player of all time and one of Africa's greatest players.
Not many sons of famous footballers have made it as big as their fathers. They are often bogged down (and sometimes consumed) by the weight of expectations as people tend to make comparisons between these promising kids and their great fathers. The comparison becomes even more intense when the wonder kids bear striking resemblance as their fathers, both in looks and general disposition on the football field.
Like his famous father, Andre is a prolific attacking midfielder with a playing style similar to his father’s, including being left-footed. He is supremely gifted and has a big heart for big occasions, as has been evident in his three appearances as a substitute for the Black Stars at the MTN Africa Cup of Nations.
Also, like his father, Andre is making his mark at France's Olympique Marseille, the club where Abedi won four French Ligue 1 titles and made two European Champions League final appearances, including Marseille's famous Champions League win in 1993.
Such comparisons may not always be logical, but what else can be said of a promising youngster who made his international debut at 17, just like his father who became the youngest winner of the Africa Cup of Nations at 17 when Ghana completed a quartet of continental titles in 1982.
After impressing in the UEFA Champions League where he displaced French international Djibril Cisse in the Marseille team, Andre has been linked with a summer move to English Premiership giants Arsenal, whose French manager, Arsene Wenger, has reportedly made a £5 million bid for the Ghanaian.
At the tender age of 18, Andre has carried the famous family name well and won many fans, particularly female admirers who seem to adore him as much for his talent as for his good looks.
How times have changed! When the Abedi-led Black Stars returned home after finishing fourth at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, an innocent-looking, six-year-old Andre and his younger brother Jordan were at the Kotoka International Airport to welcome their father.
The Ayews surely have football genes, with ex-Black Stars striker Kwame Ayew and ex-Hearts of Oak and Black Meteors midfielder Sola Ayew both carrying the family name at different periods in their careers.
Several years down the line, Andre is carrying the family torch and is destined for greatness. Similarly, Jordan Ayew's garden looks equally green after he was recently invited into the France Under-17 team.
Close observers believe that Jordan, who plays for the youth team of Marseille, is more gifted than Andre and may become a bigger football star. Only time will tell.
Andre has long been touted as one of the best youngsters in France and actually received four call-ups into the French national youth team but minor injuries prevented him from playing for the country of his birth until he made his Ghana debut last August against Senegal in London, three months after he had signed for a professional contract with the senior team of Marseille.
A well-cultured youngster, Andre acknowledges he is still on the learning curve and working his way to the top without living in his father's shadow.
"I want to make a name for myself and not just be seen as the son of Abedi Pele," he says.


HOLD your breadth! Knash your teeth - and now raise a cheer!. The ‘Jalco Cup’ is ours again, writes Kofi Badu.
“We have won it with a shattering display of team work, a marvellous display of ball control and brainy tactics - the combination that puzzled the Nigerians.
Seven goals to nil, the score was. And make no mistake, it could have reached the dozen mark had our players been a little more serious in the second half.
“Prolific, devastating, incredible - this is the devil incarnate aroused to a limitless degree!
“That was the start. The historic start of the Gold Coast team which sent the thousands of people at the stadium into a victory day celebration.
“This is the Gold Coast splitting through what is supposed to be a nation’s defence like red-hot knife cutting through butter.
“Two goals came in a space of four minutes, another in a further six minutes - and who else could double the superiority of the boys in green jerseys and white shorts.
“Now forget about the start. Follow me to the end of the first half.
“The Gold Coast Police Band is marching through the field. The crowd is settling down. And the score - it’s six goals to nil against Nigeria.
“It seems incredible. But that was the game. And the most astonishing part - two goals came in a space of four minutes.
“Look at how it happened. Kobina Otoo stopped the ball from the kick-off. A pass to Baba Yara on the right wing. Ntephe was beaten and Charles Gyamfi ran to take the position of Yara. The next moment, handkerchiefs were flying through the air; pandemonium reigned - the Gold Coast were one goal up in the first two minutes.
“The goal kick— and off they went again. This time, it was to the opposite wing.
“Oscar Gesper got the pass from James Adjei, raced with it to the wing, centred - and as Gyamfi sprinted through again, the result was obvious.
“A typical ground shot and O’Dwyes was stretched like a star-fish on the floor as the ball flashed into the net again. Two goals, four minutes!
“Nigeria tried to fight back. Anieke set the field, sent a through pass to Cyril, back to Anieke, then to Onyeanwuna.
“But there he was - skipper “
Gold Coast: A. R. Kassum, Kwami Appiah, Ben Sissuh, Kwamina Otoo, Chris Briandt (captain), Tim Darbah, Baba Yara, James Adjei, Asebi Boakye, C. K. Gyamfi, Oscar Gasper.
Coaches: Joe Ocquaye and Sam Kumi
Nigeria: O’Dwyer, Nwaiwu, Okoriji, Dike, Ibe, Ntephe, Cyril Asohika, Onyeawuna, Unwulaka, Peter Anieke (captain) Ironkwe.
Coach: Dan Anyiam. Team Manager: Etim Ironbar.


THE occasion was the first leg of the World Cup eliminations and the match was played in Lagos on February 19, 1973.
The Black Stars won the match 3-2, after trailing 1-2 at half time.
Kwasi Owusu, playing at centre-forward, scored all of Ghana’s three goals in the 18th, 55th and 85th minutes, while Yakubu Mambo got both goals for Nigeria in the 15th and 40th minutes.
After Ghana’s third goal, however, pandemonium broke out and in the heat of the confusion Nigerian fans set ablaze the ‘Setra’ bus that had conveyed Ghanaian supporters to Lagos for the match.
Ghana: Lante France, Enoch Asumadu, Ayi Acquah, Tetteh Gorleku, Dan Oppon, Eric Amankwaa, Kwasi Owusu, Isaac Eshun, Malik Eshun.
Coaches: Ben Kwofie and Nicolae Dimitru
Nigeria: Essem, Tony Igwe, Njoku, Owolabi, Mohammed Sain, Ottah, Ezeani, Sunday Oyarekhua, Yakubu Mambo, Illerika Haruna, Olayoubo/Obianika, Josiah Dombraye.


THE last time Nigeria won a competititve match at the Accra Stadium against the Black Stars was some 24 years ago — on October 30, 1983, to be precise.
The match was in connection with the Olympic Games qualifying series. The first leg, which was played in Lagos on October 15, 1983, had ended 0-0.
Inside-left Chizubor Ihlelegbu and right winger Ademola Adeshina scored for Nigeria in the 48th and 89th minutes respectively.
Opoku Nti scored Ghana’s only goal in the 73rd minute,
Ghana: Owusu-Mensah, Hesse Odamtten, Kwasi Appiah, Baba Gambo, Isaac Paha (captain), Papa Arko, Bannerman/Botchway, George Lamptey, Kayede, Opoku Nti/Aziz, Kofi Abbrey.
Team Manager: Osam Duodu. Coach: E. K. Afranie
Nigeria: Peter Rufai, Amos Edosdogbe, Yisa Shofoluwe, Louis Iguibo, Anthony Edward, Kingsley Paul, Fatai Yekini, Ademola Adeshina/Wole Odegbami, Sunday Daniel Chizubor, Charles Osuji.


Date Team Venue Score Competition
06/02/2007 Ghana v Nigeria Brentford 4-1 Friendly
23/01/2006 Ghana v Nigeria Egypt 0-1 Africa Rd 1
30/05/2003 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-3-3 Lg Cup Sf
15/12/2002 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 0-1 Friendly
03/02/2002 Ghana v Nigeria Mali 0-1 Africa Qf
29/07/2001 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-3 WCq
11/03/2001 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 0-0 WCq
28/09/1999 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Friendly
09/03/1994 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Friendly
23/01/1992 Ghana v Nigeria Senegal 2-1 Africa Sf
02/11/1991 Ghana v Nigeria d'Ivoire 1-0 Cedeao 3/4
13/04/1991 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 AnCq
01/09/1990 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-0 AnCq
06/02/1987 Ghana v Nigeria Liberia 3-1 Cssa Sf
29/07/1986 Ghana v Nigeria Liberia 2-0 Liberia Rd 1
05/03/1984 Ghana v Nigeria d’Ivoire 1-2 Africa Rd 1
30/10/1983 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-2 OGq
15/10/1983 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 OGq
01/05/1983 Ghana v Nigeria Ethiopia 1-0 A/Ababa Final
21/07/1978 Ghana v Nigeria Algeria 0-0 A/ Games Rd 1
08/03/1978 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-1 Africa Rd 1
04/09/1977 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-2 Ecowas Games
31/08/1975 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 3-0 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
24/08/1975 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-2 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
17/08/1974 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-0 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
11/08/1974 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-1 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
25/02/1973 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-1 WCq
10/02/1973 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 3-2 WCq(FIFA 2-0)
08/01/1973 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 2-4 African Games Rd 1
18/05/1969 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-1 WCq
10/05/1969 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-2 WCq
23/12/1967 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 2-2 Azikwe Cup
17/10/1967 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 2-1 Azikwe Cup
28/09/1967 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-1 Friendly
12/02/1967 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 2-0 Azikwe Cup
28/01/1967 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 2-2 Azikwe Cup
07/11/1965 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 3-0 Azikwe Cup
30/10/1965 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 4-0 Azikwe Cup
23/02/1963 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 5-0 Nkrumah Cup Sf
10/11/1962 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Friendly
17/12/1961 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 5-1 Friendly
01/06/1961 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 3-0 Friendly
30/04/1961 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 2-2 Ancq
08/04/1961 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Ancq
29/10/1960 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-1 In’dence Cup
09/10/1960 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 3-0 Nkrumah Cup
10/09/1960 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 2-2 WCq
28/08/1960 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 4-1 WCq
21/11/1959 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 5-2 Jalco Cup
25/10/1959 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 4-1 OGq
10/10/1959 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 1-3 OGq
25/10/1958 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 2-3 Jalco Cup
27/10/1957 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 3-3 Jalco Cup
27/10/1956 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-3 Jalco Cup
30/10/1955 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 7-0 Jalco Cup
30/10/1954 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-3 Jalco Cup
11/10/1953 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-0 Jalco Cup
20/10/1951 Ghana v Nigeria Nigeria 0-5 Jalco Cup
28/05/1950 Ghana v Nigeria Ghana 1-0 Friendly

WCq — World Cup qualifier
OGq — Olympic Games qualifier
Africa — Nations Cup

Nigeria caused our exit in 2002, 2006...IT'S PAYBACK TIME, STARS! (1a)

Preview: Michael Quaye

GHANA and Nigeria will define another epic phase of their West African football rivalry with a Nations Cup quarter-final encounter in Accra which is expected to vibrate throughout the world.
It is difficult to imagine what else will be in motion, whether in Accra or Lagos, when the Black Stars and the Super Eagles play the first of the Ghana 2008 quarter-finals matches in Accra.
For Ghana, the two successive failures at the Nations Cup at Nigeria’s behest provide reason for jitters, but it is the form of the Black Stars and the resounding backing of the home crowd that terrify the campaign of the Super Eagles.
These factors, along with the influence of Chelsea teammates, Ghana’s Michael Essien and Nigeria’s Mikel Obi, are what have raised the game onto a stage that could perhaps only be equalled by the grand final.
A Garba Lawal strike ended Ghana’s dream at just the quarter-finals in Mali 2002. In Egypt in 2006 (Ghana missed the 2004 tournament in Tunisia), it was Taye Taiwo’s powerful drive from a freekick that started what was to become a miserable appearance for a woefully depleted Ghanaian squad which would not make it beyond group play.
The contemporary times Nigerian dominance over Ghana, spanning the controversial 3-0 spanking of the Black Stars in Port Harcourt in the World Cup qualifier on July 29, 2001, when Ghana finished play with Emmanuel Osei Kuffour in post, was only severed last year when the Stars thumped the Eagles 4-1 in a friendly in Brentford, England.
That outstanding performance was a confirmation of the superb form of the Ghanaian side since leaving the Egypt Nations Cup.
Subsequent outings, including the World Cup appearance, gave the Stars serious international recognition and the team’s unblemished record so far in Ghana 2008 has made the Stars legitimate favourites for a fifth triumph on the continent.
But the refurbished Ohene Djan Sports Stadium, even if it hardly bears any semblance to its old shape and form, must strike a bitter chord in the memory of the Super Eagles. In their last competitive game in Accra, a star-studded Nigerian team were reduced to ordinary players when Ghana paraded a wholly local-based squad in a World Cup qualifier that ended goalless on March 11, 2001.
Apart from their individual talents and the ability to rise to a big occasion, Nigeria’s skipper Nwankwo Kanu and striker Obafemi Martins appear to represent agitated Eagles players resorting to their famous mind game ploy in a tournament in which they have survived mainly on account of an Ivorian fair play profile.
“All of us are serious about this game and for once every player is determined and prepared to die on the pitch to ensure that victory is ours so that we proceed from there to the final,” were Kanu’s words in an earlier interview published in the Graphic Sports.
On the eve of the game, fans’ interest has added to the tension, as long queues draped in real chaos have characterised ticket demands at the various designated sales points in the capital. The one-day exeat for the Ghanaian players was well-intended by Coach Claude Le Roy to defuse the tension.
But the French tactician, who won the continental trophy in 1988 with Cameroun, may be under even more pressure than the players. Apart from a duty to satisfy Ghanaian fans, victory will deliver a present for a birthday that will come three days after the clash.
But whatever experience Kanu brings from his five previous Nations Cup appearances, and whatever quality Martins, as well as John Utaka, Yakubu Ayegbeni, central defender Joseph Yobo, Taiwo and Mikel Obi bring on board, the Stars counter with an almost unmatched unity in camp, an unyielding hunger to satisfy an impatient home crowd and a crave to make the “Host And Win” philosophy work.
This is the charge that has kept the Stars’ camp quite restless for the day of reckoning.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Date versus venue score competition
06/02/2007 Nigeria Brentford 4-1 Friendly
23/01/2006 Nigeria Egypt 0-1 Africa Rd 1
30/05/2003 Nigeria Nigeria 1-3 Lg Cup Sf
15/12/2002 Nigeria Ghana 0-1 Friendly
03/02/2002 Nigeria Mali 0-1 Africa Qf
29/07/2001 Nigeria Nigeria 0-3 WCq
11/03/2001 Nigeria Ghana 0-0 WCq
28/09/1999 Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Friendly
09/03/1994 Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Friendly
23/01/1992 Nigeria Senegal 2-1 Africa Sf
02/11/1991 Nigeria d'Ivoire 1-0 Cedeao 3/4
13/04/1991 Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 AnCq
01/09/1990 Nigeria Ghana 1-0 AnCq
06/02/1987 Nigeria Liberia 3-1 Cssa Sf
29/07/1986 Nigeria Liberia 2-0 Liberia Rd 1
05/03/1984 Nigeria d’Ivoire 1-2 Africa Rd 1
30/10/1983 Nigeria Ghana 1-2 OGq
15/10/1983 Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 OGq
01/05/1983 Nigeria Ethiopia 1-0 A/Ababa Final
21/07/1978 Nigeria Algeria 0-0 A/ Games Rd 1
08/03/1978 Nigeria Ghana 1-1 Africa Rd 1
04/09/1977 Nigeria Nigeria 1-2 Ecowas Games
31/08/1975 Nigeria Ghana 3-0 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
24/08/1975 Nigeria Ghana 1-2 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
17/08/1974 Nigeria Nigeria 1-0 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
11/08/1974 Nigeria Nigeria 1-1 Nigeria/Ghana Festival
25/02/1973 Nigeria Ghana 1-1 WCq
10/02/1973 Nigeria Nigeria 3-2 WCq(FIFA 2-0)
08/01/1973 Nigeria Nigeria 2-4 African Games Rd 1
18/05/1969 Nigeria Ghana 1-1 WCq
10/05/1969 Nigeria Nigeria 1-2 WCq
23/12/1967 Nigeria Nigeria 2-2 Azikwe Cup
17/10/1967 Nigeria Ghana 2-1 Azikwe Cup
28/09/1967 Nigeria Ghana 1-1 Friendly
12/02/1967 Nigeria Ghana 2-0 Azikwe Cup
28/01/1967 Nigeria Nigeria 2-2 Azikwe Cup
07/11/1965 Nigeria Ghana 3-0 Azikwe Cup
30/10/1965 Nigeria Nigeria 4-0 Azikwe Cup
23/02/1963 Nigeria Ghana 5-0 Nkrumah Cup Sf
10/11/1962 Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Friendly
17/12/1961 Nigeria Ghana 5-1 Friendly
01/06/1961 Nigeria Ghana 3-0 Friendly
30/04/1961 Nigeria Ghana 2-2 Ancq
08/04/1961 Nigeria Nigeria 0-0 Ancq
29/10/1960 Nigeria Nigeria 1-1 In’dence Cup
09/10/1960 Nigeria Nigeria 3-0 Nkrumah Cup
10/09/1960 Nigeria Nigeria 2-2 WCq
28/08/1960 Nigeria Ghana 4-1 WCq
21/11/1959 Nigeria Ghana 5-2 Jalco Cup
25/10/1959 Nigeria Ghana 4-1 OGq
10/10/1959 Nigeria Nigeria 1-3 OGq
25/10/1958 Nigeria Nigeria 2-3 Jalco Cup
27/10/1957 Nigeria Ghana 3-3 Jalco Cup
27/10/1956 Nigeria Nigeria 0-3 Jalco Cup
30/10/1955 Nigeria Ghana 7-0 Jalco Cup
30/10/1954 Nigeria Nigeria 0-3 Jalco Cup
11/10/1953 Nigeria Ghana 1-0 Jalco Cup
20/10/1951 Nigeria Nigeria 0-5 Jalco Cup
28/05/1950 Nigeria Ghana 1-0 Friendly

WCq — World Cup qualifier
OGq — Olympic Games qualifier
Africa — Nations Cup

Overall against Nigeria
Country P W D L GF GA
59 24 19 16 98 68

Thursday, January 31, 2008


NIGERIA’s forward Osaze Odemwingie has warned the rest of the tournament that his team means business after its “miracle” qualification.
The Super Eagles beat Benin 2-0 while Ivory Coast defeated Mali, making Nigeria scrape through the last eight and a quarter-final meeting with Ghana.
"We asked for something of a miracle and it happened," said Odemwingie, who is suspended for Sunday's match.
"We showed great mental strength. Rule us out at your own risk."
The victory for Nigeria sparked scenes of celebrations in the Super Eagles camp as the West African nation avoided elimination at the group stage for the first time since 1982.
Odemiwingie, 27, had an excellent game against the Squirrels, setting up John Obi Mikel for the opening goal.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni made the result safe for Nigeria five minutes from time — and with Ivory Coast comfortably defeating Mali, the Super Eagles finished second in Group B on goal difference.
We are now up against the host team, and if we want to progress in this competition, we will have to beat them as well," added Odemwingie.
Didier Drogba got his name on the score sheet as Ivory Coast won their third straight game.
The heavily fancied Elephants will now play Guinea for a place in the semi-finals, but the Chelsea striker is refusing to talk up his team's chances of winning the tournament.
When asked about the prospects of the Ivorians improving on their status as beaten finalists in 2006, Drogba said: "Be careful — football is very strange.
"I hope we can keep it very simple, not speak too much and do it on the pitch.
"It is another tournament that is starting now. Two years ago was two years ago - this is a new competition and we have different players. I hope we go on to win it, but now it is a series of knockout games” — BBC.

OLISEH FEARS FOR NIGERIA ...Says Super Eagles lack real leader to push them forward

A FORMER captain of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh, has admitted that the upcoming quarter-final showdown against the Ghana Black Stars “will be difficult in many respects for the Nigerians”.
Speaking on the BBC moments after the Nigerians beat Benin 2—0 to book a place in the quarter-final round, Oliseh said: “It's going to be difficult, because Ghana were pretty impressive on Monday against Morocco. I was very impressed with Essien who seemed to cover every part of the pitch and he really showed why he is Africa's player of the moment.
“But there are two kinds of players; there are those who go out on the pitch and don't play well because they are afraid of what might happen if they lose.
“And then there is the type of player who says, ‘Finally, this is the time to show people how good I am. I hope my countrymen will think of the second option”.
Oliseh, who captained Nigeria to win the cup in 1994, was happy that the Super Eagles made it to the second round.
“I know how significant it would have been failing to qualify for the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations, especially as we didn't qualify for the World Cup two years ago.
“It was more than important. After the game, you could see the players together rejoicing and jumping around because it was such a relief for them.
“I'm not sure the victory will be a spark for Nigeria to go on and win the tournament, but I hope it will be.
“We are playing our eternal rivals, Ghana, in the next round and this game could yet ignite the team. What will certainly help is if the players could remove the pressure of history from their heads.
“They have a problem dealing with the past glories of the national team. The heights that my generation scaled are very hard to replicate. We won the Nations Cup, we reached another final and we dominated African football.
“They have to realise they have to write their own story and forget about the past.
“The national team is also lacking a real leader to push them on, the way you see Didier Drogba for Ivory Coast or Michael Essien for Ghana. Every team has to have one and luckily we saw John Obi Mikel do some of that against Benin. I just hope he can continue.
“I was younger than him when I became a leader for the national team.
“Leadership is something which people are either born with or have to learn. I think Mikel has to learn to be more imposing in the team.
“Whether this victory saved Berti Vogts, I don't know - that will be down to what happens in the Ghana game, because if we don't get a good result against the Black Stars, it will still be seen as a negative tournament.
“It would be the first time since 1982 that we didn't make it as far as the semi-finals.
“Nigeria is a very special country. We are the most populated African nation in the world with 130 million people, so it's normal that you are under pressure as the coach of the national team.
“In 1994 before we played the Nations Cup which we won in Tunisia, I was a young up-and-coming player when we played Ghana in our last friendly before the tournament.
“I played so well that people said, 'if he can play like that against Ghana, he doesn't have a problem any more. He must be a regular'. That tells you how big this game is against Ghana on Sunday.
“Much of the match is down to the coach to make it clear to the players that there is no pressure. Vogts has more psychological work to do, because it is too late to start talking about tactics now”.

ENGLISH CLUBS LEFT DRY ...By the absence of 36 top African stars

THE Premier League's dressing rooms became quieter places this week after almost 40 players left their clubs for Ghana and the African Cup of Nations, a tournament that ignites national pride but also sparks despair in managers who find themselves short of players. David Moyes and Sam Allardyce have led the now common calls for the competition, which kicks off in January to be moved to the summer. Their protests are not surprising: between them, Everton and Newcastle will lose seven players this month.
The Nigerian Football Association gave Yakubu Ayegbeni permission to play in Everton's Carling Cup semi-final tie at Chelsea but there was no such dispensation for Steven Pienaar who was told by South Africa to ignore his club manager's demands and join up with the squad immediately. Moyes's desire to keep players for as long as possible is borne out of past experiences; he knows the effect a new year exodus can have.
In January 2004, he lost Joseph Yobo to the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia. The Nigerian was a regular in Everton's defence and without him the side lost four league games, including a 4-3 reverse to Manchester United and a 3-0 loss to Birmingham. Everton had only conceded three or more goals in three of their 29 previous matches that season, without Yobo, and they did it twice in five days.
Yobo's return stabilised a side that was close to being relegated, they lost just once in their next nine games, kept three clean sheets and managed to stay in the division by just six points. Had the African Cup of Nations been longer, or Nigeria progressed further than the semi-finals, Everton could now be in the Championship.
Allardyce's despair is also based on past experiences. As the manager of Bolton, he lost four players to the 2006 tournament, held in Egypt, including El Hadji Diouf. The Senegal forward's departure coincided with the club's Uefa Cup tie at home to Marseille. They drew 0-0 before losing the second leg 2-1, a result that ended their first European campaign. Diouf also aggravated a hernia in Egypt, which meant he could not play again until late April. Bolton failed to qualify for Europe that season by seven points.
Diouf could have been an important source of goals then and could be even more so now should the club, as expected, sell Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea. But Diouf will be on international duty again and Senegal's gain could prove to be Bolton's ruin. They are only three points off the relegation zone and the loss of two regular strikers this month could see them slide into the bottom three.
"The African Cup of Nations is never going to move. It makes life difficult for Premier League clubs because more teams are taking more players from Africa," Allardyce said last week. "I don't think FIFA will contemplate shifting the tournament because it is such a big thing for the African boys and it's when they want it."
The African Cup of Nations, being held for the 26th time this year, is held in January through necessity. Most grounds in the continent do not have floodlights meaning matches have to be played during the day, impossible during the searing heat of June and July across much of the continent.
There is an obvious retort to managers who complain about scheduling: stop buying African players. According to a Uefa survey, 204 African players were playing in Europe in 2006, 24 in England. That figure surged to 40 last year and the success of the likes of Didier Drogba at Chelsea and Kolo Touré at Arsenal will only see more arrive. As Joe Jordan, Ports- mouth's assistant manager, said as his club lost four players to this year's Cup of Nations, "We're signing players from Africa because of their ability and that outweighs the handicap of losing them for a few weeks."
The African Cup of Nations' effect on the Premier League title race has been negligible and this is perhaps why Arsène Wenger remains calm despite Arsenal regularly seeing a January exodus.
The Gunners lost two players, Nwankwo Kanu and Lauren, in 2002 yet still won the championship, beating Liverpool, who lost no one, into second place. Arsenal's invincibles then stormed to the title in 2004 despite losing Kanu again. Touré and Emmanuel Eboué missed matches at the start of 2006 but so did Drogba and Chelsea still won their second consecutive title.
"I consider the players who go away to be injured," Wenger said. "The day they return, they are no longer injured and I put them back in my team."
The price of going
Rigobert Song's departure to the African Cup of Nations in 2000, which was co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria, was the start of the end of his Liverpool career. The Cameroon captain competed with Sami Hyypia for a place in the centre of defence before the tournament but played only four more times in the league that season after he returned. He lost his place to Stéphane Henchoz, who went on to form a formidable partnership with Hyypia over the next few seasons.
Frédéric Kanouté's participation in the 2004 African Cup of Nations gave Jermain Defoe the chance to establish himself in the Tottenham side. Defoe scored four goals in three games while Kanouté was away and Kanouté lost his place as a regular and joined Sevilla in May 2005, still angry that Spurs had tried to stop him competing in the tournament. The former France Under-21 international had registered with Mali just beforehand, which went down badly with club officials.


Arsenal: Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Eboué (Ivory Coast), Alexandre Song (Cameroon)
Birmingham:: Richard Kingson (Ghana), Mehdi Nafti and Radhi Jaidi (Tunisia)
Blackburn: Aaron Mokoena (South Africa)
Bolton: El Hadji Diouf (Senegal), Abdoulaye Méïté (Ivory Coast)
Chelsea: Mikel John Obi (Nigeria), Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast), Michael Essien (Ghana)
Everton: Joseph Yobo and Yakubu Ayegbeni (Nigeria), Steven Pienaar (South Africa)
Liverpool: Nabil El Zhar (Morocco), Mohamed Sissoko (Mali)
Middlesbrough: Mohamed Shawky (Egypt)
Newcastle: Obafemi Martins (Nigeria), Geremi (Cameroon), Abdoulaye Faye and Habib Beye (Senegal)
Portsmouth: Pape Bouba Diop (Senegal), Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka (Nigeria), Sulley Muntari (Ghana)
Reading: André Bikey (Cameroon), Emerse Faé (Ivory Coast), Ibrahima Sonko (Senegal)
Sunderland: Dickson Etuhu (Nigeria)
Tottenham: Didier Zokora (Ivory Coast)
West Ham: John Pantsil (Ghana), Henri Camara (Senegal)
Wigan: Salomon Olembe (Cameroon), Julius Aghahowa (Nigeria)

SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICAN STARS HOTS UP ....As Ghana 2008 tournament enters knock-out stage

AT the end of the 19th Century, European countries, in what became known as the scramble for Africa, sought to carve up the continent between them.
In 2008, the scramble is to secure the continent's finest footballing talent.
The regard in which African players are now held by Premier League clubs is plain for all to see.
When Mali hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002, England's top flight was stripped of just eight players.
Fast forward to the 2008 edition in Ghana and that figure has risen to a staggering 35.
And despite many a manager's criticism of the tournament's mid-season scheduling, it appears likely that the trend will only continue to grow.
BBC Sport understands that all but five Premier League clubs have sent scouts to the Nations Cup, not only to spot potential recruits for the here and now but, more importantly, for the future.
"We already know the players and I don't think any clubs of our calibre go there to sign a player — they should know who they want a long time before," said Chelsea's chief scout and head of youth development Frank Arnesen. "We are monitoring for the future."
Chelsea's four players competing at the Nations Cup — Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and Jon Mikel Obi — were purchased from other European clubs at a total cost of more than £50m.
Part of Arnesen's job is to ensure the club secure the best possible talent at the best possible price.
If a club can identify and buy talent before African players make their name in the major European leagues, there are huge savings to be made.
But even if they have made a name for themselves, BBC Sport found a widespread belief in the Premier League that African players offer excellent value for money.
"Look at Habib Beye, whom we signed from Marseille for £2m," said Newcastle first-team coach Steve Round.
"For a full international of his pedigree and the amount of games he has played in Europe and the Champions League, to get an English player of the same pedigree could cost you in the region of £8m-£10m."
Just as important as the financial advantages are the physical and technical perk.
"One of the most significant changes to the Premier League over the past five years is how much the high intensity output has improved — it has gone up about 2.5km in the last five years, which is a colossal amount," added Round.
"That is partly due to better training methods and better athletes being produced but also because of the influx of a lot of these African players who, physically, are very good."
Tord Grip, a member of the Manchester City coaching staff under Sven-Goran Eriksson, added: "They seem to be well-suited to the style of play in the Premier League.
"African players are strong, athletic and good technically. You also find that they are very motivated, because they have come from a difficult and poor background."
Arnesen insists individuals from any background can make it to the top, but the Dane concedes the amount of football played by Africans as they grow up is key to their development, a point echoed by Damien Comolli.
"When you go to any country in Africa, people, especially kids, play football from eight in the morning until late at night," said Tottenham's sporting director.
"When you have millions of kids playing street football all day long, players will come through, exactly like in Brazil."
Scouting is a time-consuming and expensive business and BBC Sport has learned that one major Premier League club's scouting wage bill runs close to £1m.
If monitoring players in Europe is a difficult logistical exercise, it is even harder in Africa, given the sheer size of the continent - Nigeria's population alone is more than 130 million.
Arsenal, who have former player Gilles Grimandi scouting for them in Ghana, have had an advantage over many of their Premier League rivals because of manager Arsene Wenger's close relationship with compatriot Jean-Marc Guillou.
As well as giving Wenger his break in management - the two worked together at Cannes — Guillou helped set up an academy in the Cote d’Ivoire, run in co-operation with the local team ASEC of Abidjan.
Graduates of that Academy include Arsenal's Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, Chelsea's Kalou, and half the Ivory Coast 2006 World Cup squad.
"They are now well-coached because some of them are coming through various coaching systems or development centres that are producing quality players now," said Wigan assistant manager Eric Black.
“The indiscipline that was there maybe 10 years ago is disappearing. They're being coached by European coaches who are in Africa, or when they are at clubs in Europe.”
With players from just four Premier League clubs - Derby, Aston Villa and Manchester City and Wigan - not present in Ghana and the country awash with their scouts, England needs little convincing of Africa's worth.

• Additional reporting by Simon Austin, Russell Barder, Chris Bevan and Phil McNulty.
Credit: BBC