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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.