Sports News of Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Locally-based player Richard Mpong scored on his debut for Ghana in an international friendly against Chile, which ended 1-1 after Matias Fernandez converted from the spot to cancel out Black Stars’ lead.
The Medeama winger put the Black Stars in the lead with about four minutes to the interval. It was a goal badly needed to save the four-time Africa champions from further embarrassment after a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Mpong raced into the box of the Chileans after an impressive coordination between Udinese’s Kwadwo Asamoah and in form AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari. An unmarked Mpong was released on the right by the left-footer before beating goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to earn his first goal for the Black Stars in his maiden appearance.
A depleted Ghana side enjoyed most of the early exchanges with the likes of Asamoah, Muntari and Derek Boateng dictating the pace in the midfield. A few chances begged at both sides, but for some excellent saves by the two goalkeepers the first-half would have ended with more than a goal.
The 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists made four changes in the second-half, but that was not enough to stop the Red One from ending their debut senior clash with the west Africans without a goal.
Coach Claudio Borghi’s half-time briefing yielded a positive result as his charges returned a very determined side. Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez could have added his name to the score sheet when he intercepted a pass from Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah, but shot-stopper Adam Kwarasey was at his very best to protect his post
Chile, however, equalised in the 75th minute courtesy Fernandez. He converted from the spot after referee Elias Bazakos? awarded a penalty against Ghana when defender John Pantsil fouled an opponent in the danger zone.
The west Africans protested some of the decisions of the referee to the extent that Ghana’s team manager Opoku Afriyie had to be sent off to save the situation.
It was a satisfactory performance, especially for Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic, who had it tough raising a team for the game as he also awaits a crucial decision on his fate in the coming days after failing to win the African title in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Ghana, ranked 23rd in the world, started six players who also opened its 1-0 loss to Zambia in the African Cup on Feb. 8.
Chile is ranked 12th in the world and fell to Brazil in the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
Ghana (4-2-3-1): Kwarasey; Paintsil, Alhassan(46' D. Opare), Boye(46' L. Addy ), Johanthan Mensah; Annan(46' A. Acquah), Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah, Muntari; Oduro (18' Mpong, 75' Warris), Baffour
Chile (3-5-2): Bravo; O. González, M. González, Rojas; Aránguiz, Medel, Díaz, Toro, Fernández; Sánchez, Suazo