2010 World Cup qualifiers Ghana joined Angola, Algeria, Egypt and the Ivory Coast in the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations, after their slim 1-0 victory over a revved up Burkina Faso side. That’ll sure please them ahead of “the greatest show on earth” in South Africa later this year.
Dede Ayew’s header on 30 minutes was enough to see the Black Stars through. Burkina Faso only needed a draw to progress, so they’ll be hangdog that they’re out of the African showpiece of the “beautiful game”. Ghana was forced to make changes to an injury-hit squad, and lacked their star Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, who has withdrawn from the tournament. This gives some second-stringers a chance to shine, and no doubt they’ll be pumped up going forward.
Ivory Coast’s game against Togo was cancelled after the Togolese pulled out of the Cup before it started, when separatists ambushed their team bus in Angola’s Cabinda province, killing officials in their squad. It’s not a great way to go through, but it gives The Elephants a crack at the African title ahead of their outing at South Africa’s 2010 extravaganza.
Meanwhile, Mali lodged an official complaint with the Confederation of African Football after Monday’s 0-0 draw between Angola and Algeria put both those sides into the quarter-finals, while knocking the Malians out of the tournament, The Malians said the second half showing between Algeria and Angola broke the game’s “fair play” policy, after Algerian coach Rabah Saadane admitted he told his team to “take it easy”. Angola finished top of Group A on five points, one ahead of Algeria and Mali. Algeria advanced, thanks to tournament rules which first take into account head-to-head records rather than goal difference, after beating Mali 1-0 last week.
World Cup qualifiers Nigeria need a draw against Mozambique this evening to take them through to the last eight. It should be an exciting match.
By Mark Allix
Photo: Ghana’s soccer supporters cheer their team during their African Nations Cup soccer match against Burkina Faso in Luanda, January 19, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings