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Sports News
Africa Olympic Qualifier: Nigeria 3 Ghana 3 7/16/2007
Nigeria Battle Ghana to a Draw in women’s Game while men Succumb to South Africa
Nigeria put the spanner in the works for the Ghana women’s team when they battled them to a pulsating 3-3 drawn game on the opening day of the Africa Olympic Qualifier.

The Ghanaians came into the game as favourites against the background of their successful tour of the Netherlands and were expected by many to run-over the Nigerians who had a difficult preparation for this competition due to domestic challenges.

The whole script seem to be going wrong for the Ghanaians as they conceded 2 goals in a 3 minute blitz during the first 10 minutes of the match. The first goal was scored in the 4th minute when the Ghanaian defence was caught ball watching and eventually deflecting a hit in the circle into their own net. The Ghanaians had hardly settled when experienced defender Rejoice Noi committed an error just outside the scoring circle during a free hit and the Nigerians obliged her with a well taken goal in the 7th minute.

Surprised and pleased with their initial performance, the Nigerians sat back to defend their lead and they did so to end the first half 2-0 up.

The Ghanaians came back from recess seeking to claw back into contention and thus put up a spirited performance which saw them draw level by the 51st minute through goals from experienced Bea Darko and newcomer Monica Grant. The Ghanaians totally controlled the game and created very decent chances which were wasted to the amazement of the spectators. Just as the Ghanaians seem to have a complete hold of the game, the Nigerians sneaked a surprise when they went ahead against the run of play with seven minutes of play left. The Ghanaian players and their bench were visibly shaken and threw everything at the game. They created and wasted countless scoring opportunities and with only a minute of play left on the clock, captain Grace Marmon-Halm stepped up to pull the chestnut out of the blazing fire to level the game.

The men had a torrid time with pre-tournament favourites South Africa who beat them 4-1. The score-line was not a true reflection of the state of affairs as some unfortunate umpiring decisions turned the match in favour of the South Africans in a 12 minute spell. Ghana went behind in the 10th minute from a well taken South African penalty corner but held their own till the 20th minute when Michael Nartey was temporally suspended for an infringement that at worst should have attracted a green card caution. As he sat out for the 12 minutes, the South Africans made good use of their numerical advantage to score twice in the 24th and 26th to end the first half 3-0.

On resumption, the Ghanaians carried the game to the South African and managed to keep them at bay. The Ghanaians came up with a goal of their own in the 48th minute when Elikem Akaba tore the South African defence apart to strike at goal. The Ghanaians however succumbed to the intense pressure of the highly technical South Africans to concede a fourth in the 54th minute to end the match 1-4.

In other the matches of the day, host nation Kenya satisfied the hunger of the home fans in both male and female categories with a 1-0 win against Nigeria and Zimbabwe respectively. Women’s pre-tournament favourites South Africa demolished Namibia 7-0 to set a high standard to emulate during the next few days of competition.

Matches in both categories will be played on Sunday.

Source:
GHP

 
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