Ghana nears quarters with victory over Mali

Updated 24 January 2013
0

Ghana nears quarters with victory over Mali

DURBAN, South Africa: Ghana took a big stride toward the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup when they beat Mali 1-0 yesterday to go top of Group B with four points from their two matches.
The decisive goal at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium came when Mali defender Adama Tamboura needlessly bundled over Emmanuel Agyemang Badu in the area to concede a penalty which Mubarak Wakaso swept home in the 38th minute with an emphatic spotkick.
The youngster was then immediately booked, however, for displaying a religious slogan when he lifted up his jersey to reveal “Allah is Great” emblazoned on his t-shirt.
It was his second yellow of the tournament and he will now miss Ghana’s third group match against Niger on Monday.
Ghana, who also hit the woodwork in the first half with a header from Agyemang Badu, are top, a point clear of Mali. Democratic Republic of Congo, who have one point, and Niger, who have none, meet at 1800GMT.
Honest Renard
takes the blame
for Zambia draw
Herve Renard, charismatic French coach of African champions Zambia, took the blame for their 1-1 draw against Ethiopia in their opening match at the Nations Cup, saying his tactical blunder cost the holders two points.
Renard, 44, who led Zambia to the African title a year ago and is now preparing for Friday’s heavyweight clash against Nigeria, told reporters that his tactical gamble for a second goal when his side were leading 1-0 on Monday did not pay off.
The usually unflappable and pragmatic coach played his hand with 30 minutes to go and with his side leading through Collins Mbesuma’s first half strike.
Renard, impatient for a second goal, took off leftback Joseph Musonda and brought on forward Jacob Mulenga.
He then switched midfielder Chisamba Lungu to leftback and it was Lungu who was caught out of position when team mate Hichani Himoonde made a mistake that allowed Saladin Seid the space to set up Adane Girma’s equalizer five minutes after the tactical switch was made.
Ethiopia played for 65 minutes with 10 men after goalkeeper Jemal Tassew’s red card.
In a refreshing admission other coaches could do well to copy, Renard said on Thursday: “I will be very honest with you. “The fact we drew against Ethiopia was my fault. I took the risk to score a second goal and I removed one defender (Musonda) and put Chisamba Lungu at leftback and that was 100 percent my mistake.
“I am not someone who will hide their faults. The players did their best. It was not easy to play on that pitch because there is too much sand in the ground, but it is the same for all four teams. I am not making any excuses though.
“I took the risk and the risk did not pay off. When I watched the video of the game I realized I could not put the blame on anyone else, it is too easy to do that.
“My strategy failed because we did not score and we conceded a goal on the side I made the substitution. I am protecting my players. I wanted more, I wanted to make the break for the second goal, but I failed.”
Despite that, Renard said he did not feel under any more pressure in his job than usual, even though there is huge expectation among Zambian fans that they can retain their title here.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
0

‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”