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Sports News of Tuesday, 8 August 2000

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Ghana won’t play in Merdeka tournament

INTERIM national team head coach, Fred Osam Duodu may have to wait till September 3 to go through his first test with the national football team. This follows the withdrawal of the Black Meteors from the Merdeka tournament in Malaysia from August 8 to August 20. The withdrawal by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) is in line with CAF’s decision to sever all ties with their Asian counterparts who supported Germany against South Africa in last month’s 2006 World Cup bid.

At the FIFA General Assembly meeting in Zurich last week, CAF announced that it had severed all Afro-Asian co-operation because “the African continent was let down when they were counting most on Asian votes for South Africa to win the World Cup bid”. Consequently, all Afro-Asia programmes, including the Merdeka event, will not be honoured by CAF until the working relation is restored.

In an interview with the GFA boss, Alhaji Jawula on his return from Zurich, he explained that the decision to boycott the Merdeka competition is only to confirm the stand taken by CAF.

“It will be like stabbing our own confederation in the back if we honour that competition,” the GFA boss told Graphic Sports.

It is not clear if Cameroun, the other African team in the eight-nation tourney, will take a similar action but it is believed that as a member of CAF, the reigning African Champions at both the senior and Under-23 level will abide by the confederation’s decision.

Meanwhile, the national youth soccer team, Black Satellites, qualified to the next round of the Africa Youth Championship on a silver platter following the withdrawal of their opponents, Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone’s withrawal was confirmed by a fax message received by the Ghana Footbal Association last week.

According to the fax, the Sierra Leoneans attributed their decision to their inability to host the Ghanaians following the current political situation in that country.

This is the second time Sierra Leone has withdrawn from a competition against Ghana. Recently, their female soccer team pulled out from a date against the Black Queens in an African Nations Cup qualifier to give Ghana automatic qualification.

The Satellites were scheduled to play their West African counterparts away on Sunday