Harambee Stars aim at Chipolopolo, Striker Michael Olunga Confident Of A Win

Harambee Stars will today take on Zambian Chipolopolo in round two Group E 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at the Nyayo National stadium at 4pm.

Harambee Stars last qualified for AFCON in 2004 while Chipolopolo boast 17 appearances in the continental event. The teams are pooled in Group E with Guinea Bissau who will be hosting Congo- Brazzaville.

Gor Mahia striker, Michael Olunga is confident that the Harambee strikers will do the job. He has been included in the squad alongside Jacob Kelli, Allan Wanga and Dennis Oliech.

Speaking to Goal.com Olunga said, “The striking department is looking good, and any partnership will do the job. Oliech, Were, Keli, Wanga are all good players. It does not matter whether I am given that starting opportunity or not, what I know is that we have people, who can do the job.

He asks fans to come out in large numbers and cheer Harambee Stars.  Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson has released his line-up below

Arnold Origi (GK)
David Owino
Lawrence Olum
Brian Mandela
Dennis Odhiambo
Victor Wanyama
Collins Okoth
Ayub Timbe Paul Were
Dennis Oliech
Michael Olunga

Boniface Oluoch
David Ochieng
Bernard Mang’oli
Johanna Omolo
Noah Wafula
Jesse Were
Allan Wanga

What are your goal predictions?

Uganda coach quits after Africa Games exit

Serb coach Milutin Sredojevic quit after Uganda were bundled out of the 2015 All-Africa Games qualifying competition at the weekend.

The east Africans could only draw 0-0 with Mozambique in Kampala and lost 4-1 on penalties in a two-leg competition restricted to under-23 footballers.

Top Sudanese club Al-Hilal later said Sredojevic, a 45-year-old who has worked in numerous African countries, would be joining them to replace sacked Belgian Patrick Aussems.

Success-starved Ugandan supporters became frustrated after the shootout and hurled stones and plastic bottles toward home players, coaches and officials.

Some called for the resignations of Sredojevic and national football federation boss Moses Magogo.

Nigeria, Egypt, Burundi and Sudan also advanced to the final elimination round for the multi-sport All-Africa Games, which Congo host between September 4 and 19 in Brazzaville.

Segun Oduduwa and Junior Ajayi scored in the second half to give Nigeria a 2-0 victory over Gabon in Abuja and a 6-1 aggregate success.

Mahmoud Abdelmonem and Vincent Omumbo converted first-half penalties in Nairobi as Kenya rallied to draw 1-1 with Egypt, who took a three-goal advantage into the return game.

Burundi advanced despite being held 1-1 at home by the Democratic Republic of Congo as they won the first leg. Katalay Ipumbu put the Congolese ahead and Fiston Abdul Razack levelled within four minutes.

Goals from Mohammed Mokhtar and Maher Osman secured a 2-0 win for Sudan over Ethiopia in El-Obied, 500 kilometres south of Khartoum.

Sudan also won the first leg and join 13 other countries seeking seven places at the All-Africa Games football tournament.

Photo Credits : AFP

AFCON 2015: Ivory Coast Africa champions for the first time since 1992

Ivory Coast ended years of frustration to claim their second African Nations Cup crown following a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Ghana in the final.

The Elephants, whose only previous triumph in the competition came back in 1992, looked set for their third final defeat in nine years when they fell 2-0 behind in the shootout after the teams played out a drab goalless draw in Bata.

But Ghana fluffed their lines and Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry would become the hero in this year’s edition when he first saved opposite number Brimah Razak’s penalty before stepping up to score his spot-kick and seal a climactic 9-8 success.

Barry created some controversy during the shootout after going down twice with what appeared to be cramp, the second time coming just before he took his decisive kick.

Whether or not the Lokeren keeper’s actions were genuine, it added tension to an encounter that had been decidedly lacking excitement in the previous 120 minutes.

The contest was billed as a ‘dream final’ between two of the continent’s most prominent teams on the world stage — yet it proved to be uninspiring for large spells.

AFCON 2015: 22 die as Egypt police clash with football fans

Twenty-two people were killed in clashes between Egyptian police and Zamalek football club fans at a Cairo stadium, the state prosecutor said, in the country’s deadliest sports violence since dozens died at a match in 2012.

According to the health ministry, at least another 25 people were wounded in the clashes that erupted when fans tried to force their way into the venue to watch a game.

The violence prompted the government to postpone the Egyptian Premier League indefinitely, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

The match between Zamalek and Enbi was open to the public, unlike most other games between Egyptian football clubs since deadly stadium riots in Port Said in 2012.

“We were inside the stadium when the clashes began outside. There was a police car on fire and they were shooting birdshot and tear gas,” a witness told AFP.

“The people fled into the desert to escape” the clashes in the northeastern Cairo stadium, he said.

The interior ministry had restricted to 10,000 the number of spectators allowed into the stadium, and tickets quickly ran out.

Thousands of fans without tickets scaled the stadium walls before police dispersed them, the ministry said.

Zamalek supporters aimed fireworks at the police who fired tear gas and birdshot, police and witnesses said.

A health ministry official told AFP some of the dead had suffered broken necks.

An AFP correspondent outside the morgue saw coroner reports handed out saying two of those killed died of “extreme pressure to the chest.”

Many of those injured suffered broken bones and bruising, the health ministry said according to state news agency MENA.

The match continued despite the violence, provoking further outrage among the fans.

Zamalek defence player Omar Gaber was later suspended for refusing to play in the match in protest at the violence, a statement from his club said.

The government accused the football fans of starting the clashes with police, leading to the deaths.

“Because of these sad events it has been decided to postpone the league to a time that will be decided later,” it said in a statement.

-‘Police are killing them’-

Outside a Cairo morgue where the bodies were taken, dozens of relatives wept and wailed while others pored over a list of the dead trying to identify loved-ones.

“The youths are supposed to be building this country and the police are killing them,” one man shouted.

Others scuffled with morgue security men who were blocking their access.

Morgue officials later placed a computer outside showing pictures of the dead men for relatives to identify.

The state prosecutor ordered an investigation into the clashes, a statement from his office said.

The statement said the fans had blocked a road leading to the stadium and torched three police vehicles.

Sunday’s deaths could inflame football fans who have repeatedly clashed with police over the past few years and can mobilise thousands of youths.

In February 2012, more than 70 people were killed and hundreds injured in post-match violence following a game in Port Said between Cairo’s Al-Ahly and Al-Masry.

The riots were the deadliest in Egypt’s sports history.

A court handed out death sentences to 21 people over that violence before an appeals court ordered a retrial that is yet to conclude.

The 2012 riots took place under a military regime that had taken charge after a popular uprising, in which football fans played a key role, ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

The fans have continued to be a volatile force in the troubled country.

Following the Port Said stadium riots in 2012, hundreds of Cairo Al-Ahly football fans confronted police in deadly clashes in the capital.

Photo Credits : AFP

Fit Gyan to face Ivory Coast in final

Ghana star Asamoah Gyan has recovered from a hip injury and will face Ivory Coast later Sunday in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Bata, officials said.

The striker was injured when fouled by Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara in a 3-0 quarter-final triumph last weekend.

He was among the substitutes as Ghana overwhelmed hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in a midweek semi-final, but not used.

Gyan replaces semi-final scorer Jordan Ayew in a team otherwise unchanged from that which started against Equatorial Guinea.


Ghana: Razak Braimah; Harrison Afful, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Abdul Rahman Baba; Christian Atsu, Afriyie Acquah, Mubarak Wakaso, Andre Ayew; Kwesi Appiah, Asamoah Gyan (capt)

Coach: Avram Grant (ISR)

Ivory Coast: Boubacar Barry; Eric Bailly, Serge Wilfried Kanon, Kolo Toure; Serge Aurier, Yaya Toure (capt), Serey Die, Siaka Tiene; Gervinho, Wilfried Bony, Max-Alain Gradel

Coach: Herve Renard (FRA)

Photo Credits : AFP

Favoured Ivory Coast face Ghana in ‘dream’ Cup of Nations final

Ivory Coast face what is likely to be their sternest test of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations when they tackle Ghana Sunday in what has been dubbed the ‘dream’ final.

Two of Africa’s football powerhouses are in dire need of a continental trophy after long, frustrating waits.

Ghana have won the Cup of Nations four times but their last conquest was 33 years ago, while the Ivorians only triumph was in 1992 and, ironically, it was at the expense of Ghana.

Ivory Coast beat their west African neighbours 11-10 on penalties after 120 minutes of action did not produce any goals in Dakar.

In the absence of defending champions Nigeria and record seven-time winners Egypt, two of the continent’s most consistent teams will clash for African football’s biggest prize.

Both started this tournament slowly – the Ivorians needed to win their last group game against Cameroon to reach the knockout stage, while Ghana fought back from an opening-day loss to Senegal to make the final.

Former Nigeria skipper Sunday Oliseh, who won the Cup of Nations in 1994 and came close to another title in 2000, has tipped Ivory Coast to win, but also warned Ghana are capable of causing an upset.

“Ivory Coast is clear favourite to win the final,” said Oliseh on his website.

“Player for player, Ivory Coast has better individuals than Ghana and they are playing better as a team now, especially when not in possession.

“Ghana are quite impressive and, with (Christian) Atsu and the Ayew brothers (Andre and Jordan), are becoming unpredictable and champion material.

“They go into this final as underdogs but with less pressure, unlike Ivory Coast, due to the fact that not many would have bet on them coming this far when the tournament kicked off.”

The “new generation” Black Stars have flourished under former Chelsea manager Avram Grant and displayed strong character throughout this campaign.

“The boys do not give up, they have fought till the end of every match,” remarked skipper Asamoah Gyan, who remains an injury doubt after sustaining an abdominal injury in the quarter-final against Guinea.

Ivory Coast, on the other hand, have been tactically shrewd and well organised when they do not have the ball.

They have been able to combine talented stars like Yaya Toure and Gervinho with hard-working team-mates.

Gervinho said they are gunning for history against Ghana.

“It has been a long time since we have had a final between Ghana and Ivory Coast and we want to write our history too. This is our chance and we hope to take it,” the Roma forward told AFP.

“We are very motivated. From the beginning of this competition, we said we have six games to play — we have played five and there is one remaining.”

Tallo Gadji Celi was born in 1992, the year his uncle Gadji Celi led the Elephants to Cup of Nations glory and now hopes he can write his own name into history.

The Bastia striker said victory in the final will be dedicated to Ivorian legend Didier Drogba, who retired from international football last year.

“Didier Drogba, our model, our strength, we love you. It will also be for you if we make it,” said the player who wears the No.11 shirt worn with distinction by Drogba.

Photo Credits : AFP

Toure absence not cause of slump: Pellegrini

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame the continued absence of Yaya Toure for his team’s collapse in 2015 following their 1-1 home draw with relegation-threatened Hull City.

The defending Premier League champions are now seven points behind leaders Chelsea, have exited the FA Cup at home to Championship side Middlesbrough, and have gone four games without a league win — their worst such run in over five years.

All this has happened while the inspirational Toure has been at the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast, who face Ghana in Sunday’s final.

The hulking 31-year-old midfielder is not expected to be available for Wednesday’s trip to Stoke City, but Pellegrini is adamant that City can prosper without him.

“I always have the same answer — you can’t have any doubt how important Yaya Toure is for us,” he said. “But we feel that every game without Yaya we could win. It is not just about one player.

“We must be a creative team and we must play faster in the last 25 metres against teams who defend with men behind the ball. I think there is more of a problem than one individual player.”

David Meyler gave Hull a deserved, if surprise, first-half lead on Saturday and the visitors, who defended stoutly, would have won had it not been for a fine injury-time free kick by James Milner.

“Yes, of course, before the game, if you’d said we were going to draw against Hull, I wouldn’t have liked it,” admitted Pellegrini. “But the way we did it was not so bad with a goal in the last minute.

“In the 90 minutes, we had all the possession and attacked and attacked. We only created one chance, so it’s very clear — we must work and try to improve in that sense.”

On Chelsea’s advantage, he added: “We’re not thinking about it. We’re not concerned about the gap.

“We’re thinking about how we can return to our normal performance. How we can score again; how we can resolve the problems other teams are presenting us. That’s more important than the gap to other teams.”

– ‘Crazy and difficult’ –

Milner was the unlikely saviour for City after coming off the bench in the second half, raising questions as to why the England international had not been in the line-up from the start.

“I think James Milner has played 24 or 25 games this season,” said Pellegrini.

“But for different reasons, I need to make changes because the last few games we didn’t score and the last two home games we didn’t score.

“He scored a beautiful goal with the free kick, but it is not about one name. That is not the problem. It is not just about one individual player.”

For Hull manager Steve Bruce, the only frustration — apart from conceding a late equaliser — was the fact that his team have failed to show this sort of form all season.

Last season’s beaten FA Cup finalists had failed to find the net in 11 of their previous 15 league games and Bruce said: “It shows how crazy and difficult the Premier League is.

“We’ve been awful for 10 or 12 weeks, but hopefully that will galvanise the squad and bring the confidence and belief that has ebbed away a bit.

“If we keep playing like that we will come back here next year and that’s the aim of the club.”

The draw lifted Hull out of the relegation zone, but they will fall back into the bottom three if Burnley avoid defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Photo Credits : AFP

Ghana coach Grant unsure on Gyan fitness for final

Ghana coach Avram Grant is unsure whether injured skipper Asamoah Gyan will be fit for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Ivory Coast in Bata.

Gyan is nursing a pelvic injury received during a collision with Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara in the quarter-finals last Sunday and he missed stormy Thursday’s semi-final win over hosts Equatorial Guinea.

Former Chelsea manager Grant said the Black Stars did not train in Bata Friday so he could not assess Gyan’s recovery.

“We can’t say how he is because we could not even train (in Bata),” lamented Grant.

However, the coach said the Black Stars are motivated to rewrite history against the Ivory Coast on Sunday after losing the 1992 final to their west African neighbours on penalties in Dakar.

“They are very motivated, they do not need any speeches because we have come a long way as nobody gave us a chance. They will show this on Sunday,” he promised.

“We have improved with every game. Algeria and Senegal were considered better than us and this was a challenge for us.

“There is one more challenge — the last one in this tournament.

“They (Ghana) know how to fight and play football.”

Stand-in Ghana skipper and midfielder Andre Ayew said inexperience cost the team the 2010 Nations Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Egypt in Luanda.

“For the 2010 final, we had about 14 players from the U20 World Cup (of the previous year). In that final we were attacking and attacking, but we couldn’t score. We lacked experience,” he recalled.

“But Sunday’s final will be a good one for us. When you get to the final, you need to do everything to win.”

The 25-year-old forward has shone at this competition, scoring three goals. He attributes this to confidence boosts from his team-mates and the coach.

“I have tried to raise my game because I have been given responsibilities both on and off the pitch. It is due to the group and the confidence from the coach,” he said.

Photo Credits : AFP

Equatorial Guinea fined $100,000 for Nations Cup battles

The Confederation of African Football on Friday fined Equatorial Guinea $100,000 for unrest in a Africa Cup of Nations semi-final in which 36 fans were injured, the CAF said.

But CAF said that despite the disturbances blamed on Equatorial Guinea fans in Thursday’s semi-final defeat to Ghana, fans would be allowed into the country’s third place play off against Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.

Saturday’s play-off is being held at the same stadium in Malabo which was likened to “a warzone” on Thursday as Equatorial Guinea supporters pelted Ghanaian fans with plastic bottles and chairs.

The game was held up for over half an hour with Ghana eventually winning 3-0 to set up a final on Sunday with Ivory Coast in Bata.

Photo Credits : AFP

Violence halts Cup of Nations semi-final

Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.

Disgruntled home supporters had seen their team outplayed by Ghana, who were leading 3-0 through goals from brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew and Mubarak Wakaso.

At one end of the ground, Ghana fans came off the terraces to seek shelter behind one of the goals after objects were hurled at them by rival supporters.

A Ghana Football Association tweet read: “Police helicopter hovers above the pitch with the Ghana fans in real danger. It’s now like a war zone.”

As the delay continued, both sets of players stood in the middle of the pitch, kicking their heels while desperate officials debated whether or not to continue the game.

The winners of the match will face Ivory Coast in Sunday’s final.

Photo Credits : AFP

CAF ban ref, fine Tunisia after penalty drama

CAF have banned Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn for six months and slapped a $50,000 (43,000 euro) fine on Tunisia Tuesday after a controversial Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final between Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia.

According to an African Football Confederation (CAF) statement, host nation Equatorial Guinea were fined $5,000 for a pitch invasion and warned to tighten security at match venues ahead of the midweek semi-finals.

The CAF referees committee “regretted” the poor performance of Seechurn, who awarded a dubious late penalty from which Equatorial Guinea equalised before going on to win 2-1 after extra-time against furious Tunisia.

The Mauritian has been sent home from Equatorial Guinea and dropped from the CAF elite referees panel.

The CAF disciplinary board fined Tunisia $50,000 for “insolent, aggressive and unacceptable behaviour of the players and officials of the Tunisian team” during the match.

They will also pay the cost of the damages caused at the Estadio de Bata last Saturday.

CAF have also ordered Tunisia to send a letter of apology, or provide evidence of the unfairness of CAF and their officials, before midnight Thursday.

Failure to do so will lead to additional sanctions against Tunisia, including a possible ban from the 2017 Cup of Nations.

CAF also condemned the conduct of Tunisian Football Federation president Wadie Jary, who entered the pitch to criticise the referee.

Photo Credits : AFP

Ghana act over Gyan hip injury

Ghana star Asamoah Gyan arrived in the Equatorial Guinea town of Mongomo Monday to check the extent of a hip injury ahead of an African Cup of Nations semi-final with the hosts.

A Ghanaian official confirmed that the 29-year-old striker and captain of the Black Stars flew from capital Malabo to the eastern town because the hospital there can perform MRI scans.

United Arab Emirates-based Gyan injured his hip Sunday after being fouled deep in stoppage time by Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara, who was red-carded for the offence.

Gyan missed the opening group game against Senegal in mid-January owing to a mild bout of malaria, then struck a stoppage-time winner past Algeria four days later.

He did not score in the victory over South Africa that secured Ghana top place in Group C, nor did he find the net in a three-goal quarter-final humbling of Guinea.

Ghana face giant-killers Equatorial Guinea in Malabo Thursday — 24 hours after the first semi-final in port city Bata pits the Democratic Republic of Congo against Ivory Coast.

Photo Credits : AFP

Premier League duo help take Ghana, Ivorians through

Premier League stars Christian Atsu and Wilfried Bony both scored twice on Sunday to help Ghana and the Ivory Coast complete the semi-final line-up at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Atsu got his brace in Ghana’s ruthless 3-0 win against Guinea before Bony netted two headers as the Ivorians won 3-1 in a heavyweight showdown with Algeria that completed a double-header at the Estadio de Malabo.

The second encounter had the potential to be one of the games of the tournament so far and it didn’t disappoint.

The Elephants were looking for revenge for their dramatic defeat to Algeria after extra time at the same stage of the 2010 tournament in Angola and, after Serge Aurier headed off the woodwork, it was they who opened the scoring.

To the gentle rhythm of the drums coming from the swaying Ivorian fans, all clad in orange, Max-Alain Gradel swung a pinpoint cross from the right towards the far post and Bony headed home his first goal of the competition.

Algeria, Africa’s top side according to the FIFA rankings, were level six minutes after the interval when Hilal Soudani netted from inside the area.

However, Bony headed home a free-kick from his new City colleague Yaya Toure to put the Ivorians back in front and Gervinho wrapped up the win at the death.

“I think we have beaten the best team in the tournament,” said Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard.

“In terms of football and ball control they were better than us but we countered them with players like Gradel and Gervinho and with the support of Bony.”

Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff replied: “It was not the best team that won. I can’t reproach the players for anything. If we played the same game 10 times we wouldn’t lose it 10 times.”

While Algeria go home, the Ivorians will now prepare for a semi-final against DR Congo in Bata on Wednesday as they continue their quest for a first Cup of Nations crown since 1992.

– Stunning strike –

Ghana’s Black Stars can look forward to a semi-final in Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo on Thursday against the host nation after destroying the Cup of Nations dream of Guinea on a typically warm and humid afternoon.

They needed just four minutes to open the scoring courtesy of Atsu, the winger who is on loan at Everton from their English rivals Chelsea.

Kwesi Appiah, who belongs to Crystal Palace but has been on loan at lower-league English side Cambridge United, then made it 2-0 just before the break after pouncing on poor defending.

But Atsu saved the best for last, with a stunning strike from wide on the right just after the hour mark that dipped under the bar and into the net at the far post.

That killed off the contest, and a miserable day for Guinea was completed when their goalkeeper Naby Yattara was sent off for bringing down Asamoah Gyan on the edge of the box in stoppage time.

“Our first goal was very good and the third goal was fantastic from Atsu. I don’t know if he meant it,” joked Ghana coach Avram Grant after the Black Stars made it through to their fifth consecutive semi-final at the Cup of Nations as they look to win the trophy for the first time since 1982.

“We are on the right way to being even better than today. Expectations of this team were not high but that doesn’t matter.”

His opposite number Michel Dussuyer was gracious in defeat, saying: “We know Ghana have players who can make the difference, and when you concede a second goal just before half-time it becomes nearly impossible.

“We didn’t play as we hoped, but let’s look to the future and think about the work we need to do to compete with the best teams in Africa.”

Organisers will be relieved that all the headlines on Sunday were made on the pitch after events of Saturday, when Tunisian players tried to attack the Mauritian referee who awarded a contentious penalty that helped Equatorial Guinea come from behind to beat the Carthage Eagles.

Photo Credits : AFP

Best still to come from Ghana – Grant

Ghana coach Avram Grant believes his side are only going to get better after they crushed Guinea 3-0 on Sunday to cruise into the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

“We are on the right way to being even better than today. Expectations of this team were not high but that doesn’t matter,” said the Israeli after the Black Stars won thanks to a brace from Christian Atsu either side of a Kwesi Appiah strike.

“Guinea are a very strong team technically, with lots of quick players in attack. Just as in every game we tried to stop them from playing their game and play ours.

“Our first goal was very good and the third goal was fantastic from Atsu. I don’t know if he meant it,” added Grant.

Atsu’s spectacular cross-cum-shot found the net to clinch the win and take Ghana into the semi-finals for the fifth successive Cup of Nations, and they will now take on the hosts Equatorial Guinea on Thursday for a place in the final itself.

“We prepare game by game. We did a lot of preparation for this game, and now we start to prepare for Equatorial Guinea,” added Grant.

“In a tournament like this it is very difficult to play against the home team, but every game is a challenge. I think they will feel good because they are playing at home.”

“I think we need to do much better than against Guinea. Anything can happen in football but we are prepared for any difficulties,” added two-goal hero Atsu.

Photo Credits : AFP

AFCON 2015: Ghana into semi-finals with Atsu at double

Christian Atsu scored twice as Ghana beat Guinea 3-0 in Malabo on Sunday to ease into their fifth successive Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.

Atsu set the Black Stars on their way to a comfortable quarter-final victory when he opened the scoring in the fourth minute in Equatorial Guinea’s capital, before Kwesi Appiah increased their advantage a minute before the interval.

And Atsu, the winger on loan at Everton from their English Premier League rivals Chelsea, then saw his cross-cum-shot find the net on 61 minutes to take Ghana through to a last-four showdown with the hosts on Thursday.

While Avram Grant’s side keep alive their hopes of a first continental crown since 1982, Guinea’s Cup of Nations adventure ends without them winning a game at the finals.

They also ended the match with 10 men after goalkeeper Naby Yattara was sent off just before the final whistle.

The Syli Nationale only made it into the knockout stage at Mali’s expense via a drawing of lots after drawing all three of their group games, and Michel Dussuyer’s side never looked like causing an upset here.

Ghana took the lead from their first attack, working the ball into the area from the left before Andre Ayew’s backheel allowed Atsu to apply an easy finish.

The onus was now on Guinea to try and find a way back into the match, but they created next to nothing, with stand-in captain Ibrahima Traore unable to influence proceedings from the right flank as he had in the group stage.

With half-time approaching, Yattara in the Guinea goal saved from Asamoah Gyan, but Ghana made it 2-0 shortly after with the help of some dreadful defending.

Appiah, who was preferred to Jordan Ayew in attack, pounced on a poor clearance by Baissama Sankoh and slotted home under Yattara.

There was a clear gulf in class between the teams and Ghana put any doubts as to the final outcome to bed when Atsu struck again just after the hour mark.

Collecting possession wide on the right, he shuffled the ball onto his left foot before whipping what looked to be a cross towards the far post only to see it drop under the bar and into the net.

Guinea’s misery was compounded right at the death when goalkeeper Yattara was shown a straight red card for bringing down Gyan on the edge of the penalty box as the Ghana skipper hurtled towards goal.

Photo Credits : AFP

AFCON 2015: Equatorial Guinea stun Tunisia to reach semis

Former Real Madrid winger Javier Balboa scored twice as hosts Equatorial Guinea reached the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals with a stunning 2-1 extra-time victory over Tunisia on Saturday.

The quarter-final winner came 12 minutes into extra time in port city Bata when Balboa superbly curled a free-kick into the top corner of the net past goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi.

The result was among the greatest upsets in the 58-year competition with Tunisia 96 places above Equatorial Guinea in the FIFA world rankings.

Ahmed Akaichi put Tunisia ahead on 70 minutes with a close-range shot and Balboa levelled in stoppage time by converting a controversially awarded penalty.

Furious Tunisians protested for several minutes over what appeared a soft decision by the Mauritian referee as Ivan Bolado fell after being challenged by Hamza Mathlouthi.

The reward for 28-1 pre-tournament long shots Equatorial Guinea is a semi-final with Ghana or Guinea in capital Malabo next Thursday.

Earlier, the Democratic Republic of Congo staged a stunning comeback in the first match of a Bata double-header to defeat Congo Brazzaville 4-2 and secure a last-four showdown with Algeria or the Ivory Coast.

Aymen Mathlouthi was a virtual spectator during a goalless opening half largely bossed by the Carthage Eagles.

The hosts survived an early scare when the ball flashed menacingly across the goalmouth of Equatorial Guinea shot-stopper Felipe Ovono without anyone getting a touch.

Midfield enforcer Houcine Ragued was yellow-carded on nine minutes for fouling Ellong Doualla as the North Africans made their physical presence felt.

Ovono dropped a corner and needed medical attention after being challenged for the loose ball by Tunisian defence marshal Aymen Abdennour.

A wild swing at the ball by Wahbi Khazri saw the ball fly wide and a few minutes later his close-range shot was deflected for a corner.

The best Tunisian chance of the half came on the half-hour when Ferjani Sassi evaded several defenders only to nod an Akaichi cross wide.

Equatorial Guinea finally troubled Aymen Mathlouthi six minutes before half-time and his weak punched clearance almost led to a goal.

Balboa pounced on the loose ball just outside the box and his low, goal-bound shot was cleared by Syam Ben Youssef.

Tunisia finished the half stronger with Akaichi delivering another good cross that captain Yassine Chikhaoui handled as he battled for possession.

Akaichi brought out the best in Ovono soon after half-time with a snap shot that the young goalkeeper tipped over.

The goal that ended the stalemate stemmed from a midfield pass by Chikhaoui to Mohamed Yaakoubi on the right wing.

His cross was aimed at Akaichi, who got in front of Diosdado Mbele and steered the ball past Ovono to stun the crowd.

But two minutes into stoppage time home supporters erupted in joy as Balboa sent Aymen Mathlouthi the wrong way from the spot.

Photo Credits : AFP

Ghana and Algeria keep title dream alive

A late diving header by Andre Ayew took Ghana through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday alongside favourites Algeria in a dramatic denouement to Group C.

Ghana came from behind to beat South Africa 2-1 in Mongomo to secure their berth in the quarter-finals as winners of the group, having looked set to finish bottom with barely 20 minutes to play.

Meanwhile, the Algerians beat Senegal 2-0 in Malabo thanks to a goal in each half from Premier League stars Riyad Mahrez and Nabil Bentaleb to go through in second place at the expense of the Lions of Teranga.

The Black Stars of Ghana, who have reached at least the semi-finals of each of the last four tournaments, were heading out when Mandla Masango smashed home on 17 minutes in Mongomo to give South Africa the lead.

However, their hopes were revived when defender John Boye equalised on 73 minutes, and with the momentum behind them, Avram Grant’s side went on to get the win they required when Marseille winger Andre Ayew headed home with seven minutes to go from a cross by Abdul Rahman Baba.

“We deserve it because South Africa were not better than us. We have finished first in the group of death, which is not bad,” said Ghana’s Israeli coach Grant.

Algeria also had to win against Senegal to be sure of going through and Christian Gourcuff’s team were on their way when Leicester City winger Mahrez slotted home on 11 minutes.

At 1-0, both sides were going through until events of the final 10 minutes in Equatorial Guinea. First, Sofiane Feghouli set up Bentaleb to lash home and put Algeria 2-0 up, and then Ghana’s winning goal in the other game condemned Senegal to an early exit.

“It was an excessively difficult game physically. The ball was almost always in the air, which is not an advantage for us,” said Algeria coach Gourcuff, who is now looking forward to a quarter-final tie this weekend.

“It was not easy to get out of this group. We don’t choose our opponents. Of course we’ll follow the games with lots of interest tomorrow (Wednesday) and we’ll see what happens,” he added.

– Senegal fail again –

While Algeria, who last won the competition in 1990, and Ghana can look forward to the knockout stage, Senegal and South Africa are left to wonder what might have been.

Bafana Bafana go home with just one point after throwing away the lead in all three of their matches, although their coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba remained upbeat at how his team performed.

“We played well in qualifying against some very strong teams, and we played well here too,” he said.

However, Senegal coach Alain Giresse was not able to praise his side, who came up short despite only requiring a draw to progress.

And as the Lions of Teranga were left to contemplate another failed attempt to finally get their hands on the continental trophy, Giresse was urged to step down by the Senegalese media.

“My contract has finished,” he reminded them. “The road ends here for Senegal. There will be a lot of changes in and around the team. What happens next I don’t know, but I know what I am going to do.”

Algeria and Ghana will find out their last-eight opponents on Wednesday, when Group D concludes with Cameroon and the Ivory Coast clashing in Malabo while Guinea and Mali meet in Mongomo.

All four sides are currently deadlocked with identical records, with every game thus far in the section having finished 1-1.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, organisers announced that the quarter-finals due to be played in Ebebiyin and Mongomo would be moved to Bata and Malabo respectively.

The decision means that hosts Equatorial Guinea will meet Tunisia in Bata on Saturday rather than in the tiny 5,000-seat Ebebiyin stadium.

In addition, Sunday’s scheduled quarter-final between Ghana and the runners-up in Group D will now be played in Malabo rather than in Mongomo.

Organisers said deteriorating pitches in the towns in question were behind the decision.

Photo Credits : AFP

Cape Verde, Zambia out after dour draw

Cape Verde and Zambia were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea on Monday after a dour 0-0 draw in a match hit by a tropical storm. Tunisia won Group B and the Democratic Republic of Congo came second after they drew 1-1 in port city Bata at the same time.

Cape Verde finished level on points and goal difference with DR Congo, but lost out because they scored only one goal in three matches while the Congolese managed two. Torrential rain, thunder, lightning and a swirling wind made good football impossible and when Zambia got a stoppage-time chance to snatch victory and a last-eight place, Mukuka Mulenga shot wide.

It was the second consecutive first-round exit for the Zambian Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) after lifting the trophy in 2012 against all the odds. Elimination proved a bitter blow for the Cape Verde Blue Sharks, who reached the quarter-finals in their Cup of Nations debut two years ago.

A scrappy first half ended goalless with neither team creating a clear-cut scoring chance at Estadio de Ebebiyin in the north-east corner of Equatorial Guinea. Zambia had an opportunity to trouble Cape Verde just past the half hour after Carlitos was yellow-carded for fouling Evans Kangwa just outside the penalty area.

But in keeping with the generally uninspiring standard of football, Lubambo Musonda struck the free-kick straight at the defensive wall. Rodrigues, getting his first start of the tournament for Cape Verde, was involved in two close shaves for Zambia just before half-time.

His free-kick found Toni, who should have done better than heading over from point-blank range on 44 minutes. And in the second minute of stoppage time, a Rodrigues free-kick flew low across the goalmouth and just wide of the far post.

Conditions deteriorated considerably during the break and the second half began with puddles dotting a pitch created only this month with grass imported from Spain. Fortunately, by the time the game reached the hour mark, the rain eased, but the match had become a lottery with water spraying each time there was a tussle for possession.

Cape Verde substitute Djaniny got a sight of goal just inside the box midway through the half, but slipped on the treacherous surface and the ball was cleared. Zambia had a good chance to end the stalemate 12 minutes from time only for substitute Patrick Ngoma and Kangwa to miss a low Chisamba Lungu cross.

Photo Credits : AFP