World Cup 2002 - African qualification

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World Cup 2002 - African qualification - match report
Ghana - Nigeria 0:0   Mar 11
Before the match
The long awaited match at Accra suddenly is everything else than the decider between the two group runanways as it had been expected before the start of the qualifiers. Suddenly Sudan and Liberia are at the head of the group and Nigeria is seeking to keep the pace to keep fans and media calm. Ghana, two time losers in three games, have their own identity problems which have mounted into an exciting approach of the big match today: they have not invited any European professionals, stories even speaking of two professionals having arrived from Europe anyway, demanding to play and being rejected.
The gap between the professionals and the country further has opened up after the Sudan match when the pointing fingers at each other became contents even of international media reports. Bayern based captain Samuel Kuffour complained about the home based players using superstitious (his interpretation) or religious (others interpretation)  rituals, so called juju, to prepare mentally (Kuffour: unprofessionally) for the game, and Ghanaian journalists complained about Kuffour had insulted them.
The professionals are criticised in polemical style at home ('they want to play but if they will they do not want to get hurt') after indisciplinary and miserable preperations in front of the Sudan game and a similar performance against Liberia. An increasingly successful Hearts Of Oak club side on the other hand increased the demand for a local based National team but when local coach Jones Attuquayefio eventually realised the idea for the big match, fears of a debacle against Nigeria suddenly have arosen.
Because for once Nigeria themselves seem to concentrate on a game seriously. They have travelled to Lomé, Togo, for a week to prepare in quiet.
A perfect set up for a fundamential game of African football.
infos from various forums (i don't want to give the urls here for spam protection and because of web traffic congestion already):
match infos
1st half
The two teams seem to cancel each other out at the moment with Ghana in relative control of the match for some time, allowing little space to Nigeria. Both have had only few chances. 
Ghana play with their homebased squad backboned (or entirely composed from ?) by the Hearts Of Oak players, among them Emmanuel Kuffour, Ishmael Addo, Duah, Adjei, Charles Taylor.
Nigeria play their top line up Shoronmu, Okpara, Udeze, West, Ifejiagwa, Oliseh, Lawal, Okocha, Finidi, Kanu, Agali. Hot weather.
2nd half
After a couple of yellow cards against Ghana in the first half yellow cards against Finidi and Okpara in the second. Ghana with the better start into the second half which work out some exciting goal scenes after an hour of play. Aghahowa has come on for Nigeria and Okocha has a free kick saved by Adjei. Half chances for both. Aghahowa retaliates for a foul and is lucky not to see red.
final result 0:0
A respectable result for the homebased Ghana crew, but also the exit from the World Cup race, at least from a realistic point of view. The first draw in a group of only 3 point matches yet.

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