Sports News of Friday, 8 June 2012
Source: AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
African champions Zambia dare not lose at home to Ghana Saturday if they hope to appear at the World Cup for the first time in Brazil.
Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) crumbled 2-0 in sweltering Sudan last weekend when the African group phase kicked off, and another defeat would all but end their challenge a mere eight days after it began.
While Zambia were being outfought in Omdurman, top Group D seeds Ghana flew to a training camp in South Africa after demolishing minnows Lesotho 7-0 in a mismatch interrupted for 90 minutes by floodlight failure.
With star striker Asamoah Gyan temporarily retired after severe criticism following a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals loss to Zambia, new coach Kwesi Appiah could afford to smile as five Black Stars made the scoresheet.
Strikers Dominic Adiyiah and Jordan Ayew, a son of Ghana legend Abedi Pele, bagged a brace each and midfielders Sulley Muntari and Christian Atsu and defender Jeremiah Akaminko also netted.
Equally important for the man who succeeded Serb coach Goran Stevanovic after a fourth-place Cup of Nations finish was the squad unity after claims that some players used witchcraft against team-mates during the African tournament.
“The team played for the entire nation, for me and for themselves,” boasted Appiah, recently handed the reins of the team ranked second in Africa behind Ivory Coast after many years of European handlers.
While Appiah looked relaxed and confident at the University of Johannesburg training grounds this week, France-born Zambia coach Herve Renard was doubtless reflecting how quickly smiles turn to scowls in football.
An adopted national hero when Zambia mocked the form book by winning the Cup of Nations for the first time after a penalty shoot-out triumph over Ivory Coast, he is now a man under pressure to get a World Cup campaign back on track.
He angered sports minister Chishimba Kambwili by going public with criticism of the travel arrangements for Sudan as the Frenchman wanted to use a chartered jet rather than commercial flights.
Lost luggage on the return trip prevented Chipolopolo training Monday as they seek to overcome 2006 and 2010 World Cup qualifiers Ghana for the second time in five months after a 1-0 Cup of Nations triumph through an Emmanuel Mayuka goal.
Captain and striker Christopher Katongo will be particularly anxious to impress after a poor performance in Sudan and goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene was another who did not replicate his Cup of Nations form.
While the clash of Zambia and Ghana at the new Chinese-built Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in mining town Ndola stands out in a 20-fixture matchday two schedule, there is also a lot at stake when Morocco entertain Ivory Coast in Marrakech.