21 January 2013

Ghana/Congo-Kinshasa: Youthful Black Stars Have to Share Spoils

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Goal-scorers Kwadwo Asamoah of Ghana, left, and Tresor Mputu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, compete for the ball in Port Elizabeth.

Ghana have brought a fairly youthful squad to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and perhaps that lack of tournament experience showed in their 2-2 draw with DR Congo on Sunday.

Having taken a 2-0 lead early in the second half, you would have put good money on the Black Stars of the past holding out comfortably for the win.

But after allowing the Congolese back into the game at 2-1, they then gave up a soft penalty and had to accept only a share of the spoils.

Credit must go to DR Congo also of course: they were the better side for large parts of the game, and were fully deserving of their point, if not more.

But the match suggests a frailty in this Ghana side that coach Kwesi Appiah will be worried about as they head towards tougher challenges deeper into the competition. He was fairly scathing of his players in the post-match press conference.

"I believe there was some small tactical indiscipline which we will try to address," he said after the game. "I have learnt a lot of lessons from it [the match] and you know normally when you are leading by two goals you have to go all out, you don't need to relax along the line."

DR Congo coach Claude LeRoy, who led Ghana to third place at their home finals in 2008, still believes that the Black Stars are tournament favourites, along with Cote d'Ivoire.

But he preferred to focus on his own side's ambitions, saying they deserved their point, at the very least, and praised the character of the players, who had missed Thursday and Friday's practice sessions while on strike over pay.

He believes the country should be a regular feature in the top five in Africa given the talent at their disposal.

This result will have given them huge confidence and given that their next fixture on Thursday is against pool minnows Niger, they have the opportunity to build some momentum. The quarter-finals look a very real possibility.

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