How Algeria's 'rough tactics' denied the Black Stars qualification to 1994 World Cup

Black Stars 93.png Black Stars starting line up for the match

Thu, 6 Oct 2022 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

By 1993, Ghana was an established football force on the African continent. The Black Stars were already four-time African champions in the AFCON and the only blot on their dominance was the fact that their superiority had not been witnessed on the world stage and at the FIFA World Cup.

But for the bookmakers, 1993 was definitely going to be the year Ghana made it to the World Cup.

That year, the stakes were very high and Ghana’s squad was brimming with stars like Abedi Pele, C.K Akonnor, Tony Yeboah, Tony Baffoe among others. Ghana had previously attempted to qualify for the FIFA World Cup tournaments but to no avail.

However, for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, it looked more certain that the Black Stars were going to be there for the first time in history. Ghana was placed in the same group as Uganda, Burundi and Algeria for the African qualifiers for the World Cup. Uganda will later pull out due to internal wranglings in the country.

The Black Stars began the qualifiers with a disappointing loss to lowly ranked Burundi but the Black Stars bounced back to earn a convincing 2-0 victory over Algeria in Accra with goals from Prince Opoku Polley and Kwame Ayew. Ghana got a revenge win over Burundi in the return leg as Abedi Pele who was the reigning African Best Player fetched the winner for the Black Stars.

A stalemate and a win for Algeria in their doubleheader against Burundi gave Ghana hopes of qualification from the group stages as leaders. All the Black Stars needed in terms of calculation was to manage a draw over Algeria or better still get a win over the North Africans.

The agony at Tlemcen

The Algerians seeing how determined the Black Stars were, decided to take the game from their capital, Algiers to far away Tlemcen, a deserted province where all the tricks and rough tactics to be deployed later that day took place.

Algeria shocked Ghana again this time as they requested the match to be played at midnight. It was very odd but the North Africans explained that it was to help their players break their fast before the match. But it was all part of their plot to eliminate Ghana through foul means.

German tactician, Otto Pfister who was at the helm named a strong Black Stars side to face the Algerians.

Knowing the weather in Algeria was always going to be dry, the Black Stars players took with them football boots purposefully for dry pitches.

But to the utmost surprise of the Black Stars, the Algerians soaked up the pitch and their players turned up with long studded boots meant for wet pitch conditions. The Black Stars players had a torrid time on the pitch as they often slipped throughout the match.

Despite the unfavourable conditions of the pitch, the Black Stars took an early lead through C.K Akonnor 19 minutes into the match. Ghana held on very tight to their lead despite the bullying and unfair tactics of the Algerians.

At half time, Abukari Damba who was in post for the Black Stars in the match recounted that the opponents took their antics to another level when they locked up the Black Stars changing room giving them no access to their locker room to take a good rest before the second half.

“At halftime, we did not have access to our dressing room, it was locked,” the ex-Ghana goalkeeper told TV3.

Despite being a goal down, the Algerian fans were relentless as they sang their lungs out. The Black Stars returned after recess intending to sit back to hold on to their lead but the Algerians took Ghana by surprise when they went in search of a goal in the 60th minute.

A long ball into Ghana’s box cost the Black Stars when experienced defender Joe Odoi failed to clear the dangerous ball from defence giving the Algerians an all-important goal.

With 5 minutes to spare, Ghana’s goalkeeper Abukari Damba committed a huge blunder when the Algerians sent in a dangerous cross at the face of the goal. Damba attempted to pummel the ball out from his area, but what was supposed to be a clearance ended up as a gift for Mourad Mezziane to score the winner for Algeria.

Algeria ended up beating Ghana by 2-1 at the end of 90 minutes to dash Ghana’s hopes of making it to the Mundial for the first time.

However, Nigeria got the revenge for Ghana when they defeated Algeria in the playoffs to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Watch highlights of Algeria 2-1 Ghana

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Author: Joseph Adamafio


Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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