Monday, June 2, 2008


GHANA’s Black Stars set a blistering pace in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, winning 3-0 against a Libyan side that never looked overawed by the huge reputation of their opponents.
The Black Stars needed the victory badly to convince the huge crowd including the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and indeed all Ghanaians of their determination to qualify for the World Cup for the second consecutive time.
But it looked so scary on many occasions as the Greens of Libya turned them inside out and threatened their goal area.
Just two minutes into the games, the Greens came very close to scoring as Osama ben Saleh blasted away from just inside the box.
The early advance instilled confidence in the Libyans and they posed some strong challenge to unsettle the Ghanaians but again in the 4th and 6th minutes Ali Khalifa and Ahmed Osman missed from very advantageous positions.
A huge wake-up call they were for the Black Stars, and in a frenetic spell of five minutes they stormed the Libyan area, one of which occasions gave them the first goal through Prince Tagoe after 16 minutes.
The lanky striker, who had missed with a piercing header on the 8th minute, this time made no mistake running into an Agogo pass to beat Saamir Abbud in post.
Instead of the goal propelling the home side into the driving seat, they came up with a patchy output, allowing the Libyans space in the middle.
But the presence of Michael Essien in the middle kept the Greens at bay, while John Mensah with strong support from home boy Afful Harrison, John Pantsil and Eric Addo worked hard to hold in check the two-prong attacking force of Osama and Al Khalifa.
Portsmouth’s Sulley Ali Muntari who was booked in the game and was lost in action on the left but came into the picture on the 20th minute with a driving half volley, but that was not enough to beat the keeper.
Urged on by the partisan home crowd, the Black Stars started the second half dazzling their opponents cutting the ball around as they tried to catch the Greens on the wrong foot.
Ghana struck with full force and found the second goal in the 54th minute when Tagoe on the left corner sent the ball back to Eric Addo who lifted it into the box for Agogo to nod home.
The stadium was electrified but the Greens appeared never ready to give up, playing a composed game and trying to catch the Black Stars on the break.
But the Libyans were to pick another goal in the 65th minute. Harrison Afful gathered a pass from Anthony Annan and crossed the ball into the box for Laryea Kingson to finish off with a half volley.
Libyan coach Faouzi Banzarti brought on Ahmed Elmassli for Ali Khalifa, and Nader Karra for Khaled Hussen on the 71st minute, and the bearded Faouzi was superb using his deft touches to terrorise the Stars back line.
Ghana also made changes, bringing on Bekoe for Agogo, Dickoh for John Mensah and Dramani for Muntari, but no goals were scored again.

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