Monday, January 28, 2008

Ghana and Guinea Through; Senegal Coach Quits

A scintillating night of action saw African Cup of Nations host Ghana go through to the quarterfinals along with Guinea from Group A.

Ghana beat Morocco 2-0 while Guinea managed only a 1-1 draw against an overmatched Namibia.

Midfielder Michael Essien scored a goal and set up another as Ghana finished their group with maximum points from three games.

So who will they play next? Ghana, who will stay in Accra for their quarter-final on Sunday, will face the Group B runners-up -- most likely Mali although it could be arch-rivals Nigeria. Could be a wild one.

In front of a packed crowd in Accra, Sulley Muntari set up Essien for the opening goal in the 26th minute with a quickly taken free kick that found the midfielder in enough space to score from close range.

The favor was returned when Essien ran at the Morocco defence in the 45th minute and slipped a pass for Muntari to net his second of the tournament.

"We decided before (the match) we were going to attack and attack. We decided to make more room for Essien to take charge and to come forward," Ghana coach Claude Le Roy said.

Morocco coach Henri Michel, who led Ivory Coast to the final of the last Cup in Egypt in 2006, said: "We now have to look ahead and build a new squad."

As for Guinea, they finished with four points, one ahead of Morocco, despite being held by Namibia, who took home their only point.

Robert Nouzaret's side opened the scoring through Souleymane Youla on 62 minutes only for Namibia to equalise 11 minutes from time courtesy of Brian Brendell's second goal of the tournament.

The only cheers in an almost empty stadium came from the volunteers and policemen celebrating Ghana's goals in Accra. Jeez, I would have LOVED tickets ...

Today also saw the first coaching change of the tournament, as Senegal trainer Henryk Kasperczak said goodbye after his team's shock 3-1 loss to Angola. The former Poland defender quit with one match to play in Group D and with his team still holding a mathematical chance of progressing.

"I'm the only one responsible for the results," he said. "There is still a small chance and I think the players will respond to the presence of a new coach."

Senegal have one point from two games and face South Africa on Thursday with assistant Lamine Ndaye taking charge. Tough times for Senegal, one of the pre-tournament favorites.

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