Ghana draw first blood


John Boye scored the second as LeRoy’s men gained the advantage their football deserved before what was a disappointing crowd in Accra.

Despite the attractions of this tie as a derby and the Togolese capital barely three-hours by drive from Accra, the game was played before a small crowd, but that did not affect the Black Stars.

They were quick off the blocks after referee Ahmed Bangoura signaled the two teams in action with Harrison Afful and Ekow Benson providing Ghana’s most potent threat down that.

Yet for all their running and hard work, the final ball from Benson lacked quality often and Emmanuel Banahene, the star of the show for Ghana in the second leg against Niger was proving even more ineffectual for the home side.

But after half hour, Ghana got the break their approach deserved. Benson pumped a high ball into the Togolese 18 area and when Eric Bekoe went up for the challenge he was shoved in the back.

When Bangoura pointed to spot, the Togolese protested furiously but Bekoe stepped up to calmly slam the ball down the middle to score his first international goal for Ghana.

Ghana held on to the lead before adding a second three minutes after the restart. Benson was the provider this time delivering a good ball into the box from the right which defender John Boye met well for his second goal in the qualifiers.

LeRoy rung the changes afterwards with Baaba Iddi replacing Banahene and Dominic Adiyiah coming on for Jordan Opoku.

Iddi proved the best substitute, however, as he set up Ghana’s best chance for a third goal, weaving his way past three Togo defenders to set up Bekoe whose shot rose a bit too high when it mattered most.

The return leg of the tie will take place in Abidjan in two weeks with Togo still serving a three-match home ban from CAF.

LeRoy is convinced though that wherever the game takes place, his players have taken a vital step towards making the final stage of the qualifiers.

Meanwhile, DR Congo moved a step closer to the final qualifying round of CHAN after beating neighbours Congo 3-0 on Sunday.

The Simbas got off to a bright start with striker Yve Diba opening the scoring in the first minute of the first round, first leg game.

The home side doubled their lead nine minutes later through Mputu Mabi Tresor before Kabangu Mulondo wrapped up the win on 71 minutes.

The emphatic victory for the Simbas means Congo have an uphill task in the second-leg in two weeks’ time.

Angola secured a vital away draw in Mozambique on Sunday when the game finished 1-1 in Beira.

The visitors took the lead through Arsenio ‘Love’ Cabungula on 24 minutes but the home sides rallied to draw level on the half hour mark thanks to a strike by Soniko.

Tanzania also boosted their chances of reaching the ultimate qualifying round of thanks to their 2-0 win over Uganda on Saturday.

Goals from Emmanuel Gabriel and Shaaban Nditi in the first round, first leg game in Mwanza secured the victory for the home side.

Gabriel opened the scoring for the Taifa Stars on 12 minutes when he fired home a cross from Mrisho Ngasa.

Tanzania doubled their lead on the hour mark through Nditi, who toe-poked the ball into the net after a goal-mouth scramble.

The Cranes had their fair share in chances but the home goalkeeper kept them at bay with some good saves.

The two sides will meet in the second leg in two weeks' time and the winner of the tie will qualify for the ultimate round.

Also seeking a place in the final round are Botswana who beat Zambia 1-0 in their first round, first-leg game in Gaborone on Friday.

The goal came five minutes before break when Zambian defender White Simwanza inadvertently put the ball in his own net.

Libya and South Africa have qualified to the final round following the withdrawals of their opponents.

Ivory Coast will host the maiden edition from the February next year.