Ghana put themselves in a very strong position to win Group A and qualify for the quarterfinals of the 2008 African Cup of Nations with their 1-0 win over Namibia yesterday. The Black Stars aren’t exactly winning with style right now, but they’re getting the job done and former MLS star Junior Agogo’s 41st minute tally from close range was all they needed to pick up the three points. Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari’s spectacular bicycle kick early in the game sailed straight into the hands of Namibia goalkeeper Attiel Mbaha. Ghana now need just a draw against Morocco in their last group stage game to seal a berth in the knockout stages, but could still move on with a loss depending on the result of the Guinea-Namibia match and Ghana’s goal differential.
Yesterday’s other game was a better one for the viewers as Guinea pulled off a 3-2 upset over Morocco. AS Saint-Etienne attacking midfielder and Guinea star Pascal Feindouno bagged a brace but was sent off as well in the 67th minute. Feindouno put Guinea ahead on a free kick after just 11 minutes, and then three goals in eight minutes (the first by Guinea, the second by a sensational strike from Morocco’s Hicham Aboucherouane, the third a PK from Feindouno) busted the game wide open. Morocco pulled a goal back in the 90th minute, but by then it was too late to really impact the game.
Morocco really had their fate in their own hands and could’ve basically sealed the qualification deal if they would’ve won yesterday, which by all rights they were supposed to do. Instead, they’ll face the daunting task of needing a result against Ghana in the last group game and it will likely have to be a victory because Guinea play the lightweights of the the group, Namibia. Morocco and Guinea are tied on points with 3 but Morocco’s superior goal differential (+3; Guinea’s is 0) could prove significant if both teams win their last game.
Group A Standings (after two games):
1. Ghana (6 points, +2 goal differential)
2. Morocco (3 pts, +3 GD)
3. Guinea (3 pts, 0 GD)
4. Namibia (0 pts, -5 GD)
Group B is in action today and wins by Ivory Coast and Mali would seal both nations’ places in the last eight of the tournament. Ivory Coast play Benin and with no disrespect to Les Écureuils (The Squirrels), this game should simply be a matter of how much Ivory Coast will win by. Mali, on the other hand, have their hands full with Nigeria and to be honest, the only team that seems likely to win this game is Nigeria. A draw for Mali wouldn’t be the worst result in the world but Nigeria could really use the three points after their opening loss to Ivory Coast.