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Soccer News of Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Source: Graphic

Togo Pip Ghana

Ghana?s preparation for the 25th African Nations Cup tournament got off to a bad start as they lost 0-1 to Togo in an international friendly at Monastir, Tunisia, yesterday.

Striker Adefanmi Olufade?s 72nd minute goal handed the Black Stars their first loss since June 5, 2004, when they were beaten 0-1 by Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou.

Olufade was left unmarked during a fast break in which the Ghanaian defence failed to deal with a sticky situation, allowing the striker to dribble his way past three defenders before firing a low shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Sammy Adjei, whose view appeared partially blocked.

Played in chilly weather before an almost empty stadium, there was very little to choose between the two neighbouring countries who had set up training camps in Tunisia ahead of the Nations Cup in Egypt later in the month.

The devastation dealt the team by injury to key players Michael Essien, Sulley Ali Muntari and Asamoah Gyan, was evident as they failed to stamp their dominance of the game and the Togolese exposed weaknesses in the midfield and exploited poor marking in defence to score the match winner.

Later in the game Ghana had yet another injury scare as centre-back, John Mensah, limped off the field after a tackle.

Skipper Stephen Appiah, Yakubu Abubakari and Laryea Kingston struggled to overpower their opponents in midfield, and even in scoring positions Ghana?s strikers evidently lacked the killer instincts to punish their opponents.

Red Star Belgrade?s Hamidu Dramani, playing on the wide left, and Kingston showed flashes of brilliance in creating chances while centre-back John Mensah and Issah Ahmed maintained a dominant presence in Ghana?s defence to put the brakes on the Togo attacks.

Joetex Frimpong came closest to scoring from close range in the 20th minute after latching on to a poor back pass by Togo?s defender, Eric Akoto, but his point-blank shot was saved by the Togo goalie. Similar missed chances by striker Prince Tagoe in the first half added to Ghana?s misery.

Ghana also survived a 55th minute scare when goalkeeper Sammy Adjei was called to duty to save a sticky situation after a number of blunders in the Ghanaian defence. It began to crack under pressure and looked out of sorts.

Ghana?s coach Dujkovic shuffled his team with the inclusion of substitutes Hans-Adu Sarpei, Dan Edusei, Hamza Mohammed, Louis Agyemang, Godwin Attram and Francis Dickoh.