Ghana and Guinea go through

The host nation are through to the quarter-finals as they top Group A in Accra.

    Ghana captain John Mensah, left, lead his side into the quarter-finals and top place in Group A [Reuters]

    In Accra, Michael Essien was at the heart of Ghana's success, scoring the first and setting up Sulley Muntari for the second to hand the Moroccans a defeat that sees them heading home early in a repeat of their first round exit in Egypt in 2006.
     
    Ghana coach Claude Le Roy described his side's performance as "the best since I took charge".
     

    "They were so dedicated, played so well, it was perfect."

    Ghana manager Claude Le Roy comments on his team's performance

    "I want to say thank you to my players. They applied perfectly the way we'd decided to play," he added.
     
    "They were so dedicated, played so well, it was perfect."
     
    For Guinea, Naby Soumah opened scoring in the 62nd minute when he fired past impressive Namibia goalkeeper Athiel Mbaha from inside the box, but Namibia drew level in the 81st minute through a low shot from outside the box by Brian Blendel.
     
    Ghana scored their third opening round win from three games after defeating Guinea 3-1 and Namibia 1-0, with the quarter-final ticket received with raucous delight by the near capacity crowd at the 45,000 capacity Ohene Djan stadium.
     
    Ghana were without their influential Hearts midfielder Laryea Kingston, suspended after picking up a second booking against the Namibians, with Norwegian-based Anthony Annan taking his place.
     
    Essien stars for the hosts
     
    Morocco coach Henri Michel made four changes to the side that fell to Guinea, including a switch of keepers, with Khalid Fouhami making way for Nadir Lamyaghri, and Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh reinforcing the attack.
     

    "We failed but I'm not standing down, I haven't been in the job so long."

    Henri Michel,
    Morocco coach

    Ghana took a deserved lead in the 26th minute when Muntari neatly chipped in a freekick over the wall from the right for Essien to execute a well-timed volley past Lamyaghri.
     
    The Black Stars capped a fine first half with their second goal, with this time Essien charged through midfield and flicked the ball on for Muntari to shoot from the left of the box on 45 minutes.
     
    There was a worrying moment in the 65th minute when Essien was stretchered off, but the Chelsea star was quickly back on his feet, to the relief of Le Roy, his teammates, and the partisan crowd.
     
    "We slipped up when we lost to Guinea," said Morocco coach Michel.
     
    "We failed but I'm not standing down, I haven't been in the job so long.
     
    "We'll go away and reflect on what's happened here and prepare for 2010 World Cup qualifying."
     
    Guinea finish Group A runners-up
     

    Guinea held off brave Namibia to go through to
    their third successive Cup quarter-finals [AFP]

    Meanwhile in Sekondi, Guinea recorded five points from three matches to join Ghana in the knockout stage of the tournament.
     
    It took Guinea just over an hour to break down a stubborn Namibian defence, but finally Soumah got to the end of a Dioulde Bah through ball before he slotted home to make it 1-0 in the 62nd minute.
     
    Namibia restored some pride when they cancelled out Soumah's goal nine minutes from the end through a Blendel low strike from outside the area. It was his second goal of the tournament.
     
    With a little bit of luck and better finishing, the lowest ranked team at the tournament could even have won this encounter as they finished the game the stronger of the two teams.
     
    "It was good to qualify for the quarter-final but we did not play well and we conceded a goal," said Bobo Balde, Guinea defender.
     
    "We missed Pascal Feindouno, who was suspended, and we were a little bit tired.
     
    "We have to play far, far better if want to progress further in this tournament."
     
    Ghana should now avoid the in-form Ivory Coast as they await the runner-up of Group B in the quarters, which is likely to be either Mali or Nigeria.
     
    Speaking of the Ivory Coast, Guinea, as Group A runners-up, have booked themselves a likely meeting against Didier Drogba's Elephants in the next round.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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