Soccer-Ghana reach last phase of African qualification

Reuters
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Michael Essien of Chelsea arrives ahead of the Champions League final soccer match between Bayern Munich …

(Reuters) - A diving header from Abdul Majeed Waris and a thumping long range effort from Kwadwo Asamoah ensured a 2-1 win for Ghana over Zambia in their World Cup qualifier in Kumasi on Friday and top place in Group D.

The Black Stars now join Algeria, Egypt and the Ivory Coast in the last phase of African qualifiers, where the 10 group winners will compete in five play-off matches over two legs next month and in November.

Ghana only needed a draw to thwart Zambia's ambitions but took no chances with an attacking first half display crowned by Waris' goal in the 17th minute as he bravely stooped in to tuck away a quick cross from John Boye.

Asamoah blasted home the second from 25 metres just after the hour mark to heap more misery on Zambia, who were always facing a difficult hurdle in an intimidating atmosphere as they sought an away victory to usurp top place.

Nathan Sinkala pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute.

The other six teams will be decided on Saturday and Sunday. Substitute Michael Essien came on to a rousing welcome from the crowd at the Baba Yaro Stadium despite having rebuffed call-ups to the Ghana side over the last two years.

Friday's match was preceded by a series of accusations by Zambia of Ghanaian gamesmanship, including delaying their arrival by refusing landing rights for their charter plane and then denying them the chance to train at the venue on the eve of the game.

Ghana denied the allegations in statement on their football association website www.ghanafa.org before the match.

Ghana were the most successful African side at the last World Cup, losing on penalties against Uruguay in the quarter-finals.

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