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Soccer News Sun, 30 Nov 2008

Stars' CHAN prospect dimmed

Accra, Nov. 30, GNA - Ghana's Black Stars prospect of qualifying for the first ever edition of the African Nation Championship (CHAN) looks frail after a 3-2 victory the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the final round first leg clash on Sunday.

The result means that the Stars must keep a clean sheet in the second leg slated for Abuja in a fortnight to book their place at the maiden edition of the competition reserved exclusively for local based players.

But that appears a mountain too high to climb if the performance of the Nigerians in the first leg is the yardstick.

The Stars' fate was brought to live thanks to a brake from Asante Kotoko left winger Franicis Coffie after Musah Kabiru had shot the Eagles into a two-goal lead with his well-taken efforts, before Samuel Inkoom sealed victory in the 74th minute.

Parading a squad with six defensive minded players in the starting team, the Stars failed to click, allowing the Nigerians to win the midfield battle at the early stages.

The midfield, consisting Jordan Opoku, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Daniel Yeboah and Coffie were virtually non-existent and leaked terribly, while the composed Nigerian trio, Olawale Issaka, Henry Uche and Elvis Kingsley made inroads into Ghanaian half. Their sweat paid off after 21 minutes, when Kabiru broke the deadlock as he slammed home after Asante Kotoko defender, Yeboah failed to clear his lines from a goalmouth action.

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The goal alerted Stars coach Milovan Rajevac of the weak spot in his midfield and ten minutes later, the Serbian sacrificed Opoku for substantive captain Edmund Owusu-Ansah, whose omission from the starting line-up stunned all.

The substitution brought some level of stability into the Stars midfield and resulted in their closest chance of the opening sixty-seconds later, but Eric Bekoe blasted wide. With a minute to half time, an individual brilliance by Uche saw Kabiru double the lead with a weak header. Coffie restored hope by reducing the tally on the stroke of half time with a spectacular shot before completing his brace on the hour-mark.

The Stars game saw a major improvement in the second half and Inkoom put them in the lead for the first time with 16 minutes to end proceedings.

The left back solo run saw him mesmerising the Nigerian rear before slipping the ball give Ghana's campaign a shade of hope.

LINE-UP Ghana - Fatau Dauda, Samuel Inkoom, Habib Mohamed, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Ofosu Appiah, Godfred Yeboah, Daniel Yeboah, Jordan Opoku/Edmund Owusu-Ansah, Yaw Antwi/Alex Asamoah, Eric Bekoe/Kojo Poku, Francis Coffie

Nigeria - Bassey Akpan, Henry Uche/Nwachi Ikechukwu, Nnaemka Anyawu, Nwabi Valentine, Sulemana Sumaila, Ike ThankGod, Koformata Bello, Itodo Cletus, Musa Kabiru/Efe Ambrose, Olawale Issaka/Omodiagbe Arewane

Source: GNA
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