Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 18 News List

2010 FIFA WORLD CUP: Adebayor returns for Togo, stuns Cameroon in Accra

AFP , JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

A Kenyan soccer fan watches his team during their World Cup qualifying match against Tunisia at the Coca-Cola National Stadium in Nairobi on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Emmanuel Adebayor shook off a six-week injury absence to score the winner as Togo shocked Cameroon 1-0 on Saturday at the start of the final 2010 World Cup-Africa Cup of Nations qualifying phase.

A doubtful starter after injuring his hamstring against Tottenham Hotspur last month, the Arsenal striker kept his promise to play for his country and struck just 11 minutes into the first half.

Victory was particularly sweet for Togo as they are 22 places below five-time World Cup qualifiers Cameroon in the FIFA rankings and had to stage their home fixture in neutral Accra.

But the 45,000-seat Ohene Dyan Stadium in the capital of Ghana is a happy hunting ground for Adebayor, who scored four goals against Swaziland in the same stadium in the previous round.

Togo were forced to move the Group A fixture because of a FIFA ban on playing in Lome after Mali players and supporters were attacked there after winning a Cup of Nations qualifier last year.

Reigning African player of the year Adebayor predicted Togolese team spirit would conquer Cameroon, a team with more big names like Idriss Kameni, Rigobert Song and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o, and greater experience. There were no goals for Eto’o and Kameni, while long-serving Song could not prevent Adebayor proving once more that he is among the deadliest African predators.

Adebayor played a pivotal role in the shock qualification of the Togolese Sparrowhawks for the 2006 World Cup with his steady stream of goals and this win will convince the west African minnows they can reach South Africa too.

The other match in the group did not go according to form either, with Gabon scoring twice in the first half and surviving a late scare to shock Morocco 2-1 in Casablanca.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the France-based son of former national captain Pierre Aubame, and Roguy Meye scored for the Panthers, while Mounir al-Hamdaoui pulled a goal back for the hosts six minutes from full-time.

Burkina Faso and Tunisia also impressed in the six-round third qualifying stage.

The Burkinabe Stallions have not looked back since Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte joined them, finishing the previous round unbeaten after launching their campaign by stunning the Tunisian Carthage Eagles 2-1 in Rades.

Duarte claimed Guinea would pose a bigger Group E threat to Burkina Faso than top seeds Ivory Coast, but that appeared a bit far fetched as his side romped to a 4-2 triumph in Ouagadougou.

Qatar-based leading scorer Moumouni Dagano raised his goal haul to nine with a couple during the second half, after Mahamoudou Kere and Alain Traore had struck to build a 2-0 halftime advantage. Veteran midfielder Pascal Feindouno and Kanfory Sylla were on target for Guinea, who appear too brittle defensively to challenge for one of five World Cup places at stake.

Away wins are precious and Tunisia overcame Kenya 2-1 in Nairobi to make the perfect start in Group B, with Issam Jomaa snatching a second-half winner after teammate Ammar Jemal had an early goal canceled out by Dennis Oliech.

The other qualifying games were drawn, with Algeria having the better of a 0-0 Group C stalemate in Rwanda, while Mudathir al-Tahir equalized for Sudan after Frederic Kanoute had put understrength Mali ahead in a Group D showdown in Omdurman.

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