Sat, Jan 26, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Hosts Ghana edge Namibia to go top of Group A

AFP , ACCRA

Guinea's Dianbobo Balde, right, vies for the ball with Morocco's Monsef Zerka during their Africa Cup of Nations Group A match in Accra on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Ghana need only a draw against Morocco on Monday to guarantee their quarter-final berth at the Africa Cup of Nations after Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo earned the hosts a 1-0 win over Namibia on Thursday.

Namibia's second loss means they will be heading off to the airport irrespective of what happens in their final Group A tie against Guinea with valuable lessons learned ahead of their bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

"We may not have played fantastically well but we've still got six points from our first two games," Ghana coach Claude Le Roy said.

West Ham United right back John Pantsil, who was flown to Nigeria on Wednesday for a scan after suffering concussion against Guinea, was a surprise starter, which allowed Claude Le Roy to name the same line up for the second consecutive match.

Namibia made three changes, with Dutchman Schans switching goalkeepers after Monday's 5-1 drubbing, Abisai Shiningayamwe making way for Athiel Mbaha.

Ghana, marshalled by Essien in midfield, made clear their intent from the whistle, taking up permanent residence in the Brave Warriors' territory yet the underdogs kept them at bay for the first 30 minutes.

Given that they were 4-0 down by the break against Morocco, the goalless scoreline up to the 40th minute spoke volumes for Namibia's newfound resilience.

The Group A underdogs were fortunate to be let off though when Udinese striker Asamoah Gyan hit the ball over Mbaha's bar from 6m out.

And just as the solace of halftime beckoned, Ghana got what seemed was their inevitable reward for all their hard work when Agogo slotted home rather clumsily from near point blank range after Quincy Owusu Abeyie's cross from the right four minutes from the interval.

Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingston then picked up a booking for a too hastily taken free kick, meaning he'll miss the all important game on Monday, leaving his brother, Hearts midfielder Laryea, to uphold the family honor.

On the hour mark Le Roy took off Laryea Kingston, replacing him with Marseille starlet Andre Ayew.

The second half mirrored the preceding one, with Ghana harrying the Namibian defense which again performed manfully to deny the forecast deluge of goals.

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