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Sports News of Saturday, 9 February 2008

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Ghana claims third place

Hosts Ghana staged a stirring second half revival to beat Ivory Coast 4-2 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Saturday to claim third place in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The teams were inspected by the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe in the company of Mr Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu-Ansah, the Ashanti Regional Minister and Madam Patricia Appiagyei, the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive and officials of CAF.

However when it was announced that spectators should stand up for the national anthem of La Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana, the Public Address System seemed to have gone off and after some minutes the Ivorian supporters in the stand used their own instruments to play their nationals anthem while Ghanaian supporters did the same. Ghana kicked-off and earned a first minute corner-kick which was wasted.

Sulley Muntari fired the Black Stars into the lead with a fierce 25-yard free-kick after Salomon Kalou had spurned a good early chance for the Elephants.

But Boubacar Sanogo equalised for Ivory Coast with a powerful run and finish and then put the Elephants into the lead with a 32nd-minute tap-in after Didier Drogba's effort was saved by goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie scored a sublime second for Ghana as he raced past three defenders before slotting home coolly from a tight angle in the 70th minute.

The Black Stars then completed a rousing comeback in front of a delighted home support in Kumasi when Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo beat the offside trap and fired into the bottom corner with 10 minutes left.

After a swarm of insects descended on the stadium - and Essien appeared to swallow one - the Stars completed the rout in the 85th minute when a long shot by Haminu Draman beat the Ivorian keeper, Tiasse Kone and the jubilation by the teeming crowd knew no bound.

At the end of the match, Black Stars defender, Anthony Annan was adjudged the MTN man-of-the-match while Keita Abdul Kader of La Cote D'Ivoire collected the Samsung Fair play award.¨

In the 1992 Nation's Cup in Senegal, La Cote D'Ivoire beat Ghana 12-11 on penalties to lift the trophy.

"We played a fantastic game," Ghana coach Claude Le Roy said

Cameroon meet Egypt in Sunday's final in Accra, looking to avenge defeats in a crucial 2006 World Cup qualifier and in the opening group match of the current tournament.
"Every cycle must come to an end," Cameroon coach Otto Pfister said. "And so tomorrow we will break this cycle."
Cameroon will be looking to match Egypt's total of five African titles when the teams meet at Ohene Djan stadium.
The 70-year-old Pfister has yet to win the African Cup after losing to Ivory Coast as coach of Ghana in 1992