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Monday, June 28, 2010

Ghana grabs extra-time goal to eliminate USA from Cup again

Ghana's Asamoah Gyan celebrates the game-winning goal against the USA in extra time.
By Matt Dunham, AP
Ghana's Asamoah Gyan celebrates the game-winning goal against the USA in extra time.

RUSTENBURG, South Africa — In the end, the U.S. team was undone by what had haunted them throughout this World Cup. By giving up early goals, the Americans fell to Ghana, 2-1 on Saturday, and were knocked out of the tournament.
"Going home, certainly it's an opportunity missed," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "In the second half, typical us, we get ourselves behind the eight ball then push and fight and scratch."
Tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation, the game went into extra time, befitting this team's penchant for drama. But once again, the USA's slow start resulted in giving up the game-winner. In the 93rd minute, Asamoah Gyan beat out Carlos Bocanegra, finishing with a pretty left-footed volley to take the lead.
"We hit heads," Bocanegra said about Gyan, his teammate at French club Rennes. "I couldn't grab him, I already had a yellow card. It's one of those things — he had an inside track to the ball, it was difficult for me to get on the other side of him."
The rest of the way, Ghana's defense held and the Black Starsate up plenty of time with some award-winning acting on exaggerated slights.
Though the USA had staged magnificent comebacks throughout the tournament, this time the Americans couldn't muster any magic. Not even Mick Jagger, who was sitting in the stands near former President Bill Clinton, could provide an emotional rescue.
After 120 minutes, after Ghana celebrated and headed to the locker room, several U.S. players remained frozen as they sat on their bench and stared into the disappointment. It was really over.
Underneath a full moon with smoke wafting above from nearby veld fires, the game started ominously for the Americans. Five minutes in, Ghana capitalized on a Ricardo Clark turnover at midfield when Ghana's Kevin Prince Boateng raced left and beat Howard on the near post. It was the third time in the team's four games in which an early goal was surrendered.
"Look, it's certainly something that we're aware of," coach Bob Bradley said. "You try to manage games early. Once again, I think in the early part of this game, we felt that we were doing a solid job. But we paid the price for the turnover. So we recognize it, but just talking about it doesn't always change it. It's a hard lesson and hopefully one that we'll be able to improve upon."
In their much-anticipated first game against well-heeled England, they fell behind in the fourth minute. In their second match against Slovenia, the USA trailed after 13 minutes. Now this.
"The warning signs were there, being scored on early, and it came back to bite us," midfielder Landon Donovan said. "We didn't come out flat, we made a mistake. … When you make mistakes at this level, you get punished for them. I thought we started well."
But Ghana's start was better. The Black Stars dominated the first half. The Americans looked like they left their game and their emotion back in Pretoria following their thrilling win against Algeria last Wednesday. Clark, in the line-up for the first time since the England game, struggled and was replaced with Maurice Edu in the 31st minute.
Entering the second half, the USA didn't have history on its side; the Americans are now 0-14-1 when trailing at halftime in the World Cup. Still, in the second half, the team showed the cohesion and energy it was lacking in the first 45 minutes. With midfielder Benny Feilhaber in for Robbie Findley, Clint Dempsey moved up front making the Americans much more dangerous on the attack.
When Dempsey was taken down in the box by Jonathan Mensah, the stage was set for Donovan to save the day yet again. In the 62nd minute, as Donovan approached the penalty kick, he crouched low to the grass and composed himself. He looked assured and relaxed when he struck the ball with his right foot, making it seem that he knew all along that it would end up in the back of the net. With the goal, Donovan became the team's all-time leading scorer in the World Cup with five goals in 12 games.
Perhaps the goal was a bit of poetic justice. Four years ago, in their only previous meeting, the Black Stars knocked the Americans out of the World Cup with a 2-1 win. With the score tied, a questionable foul was called on U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu in the box and a penalty kick was awarded in first-half stoppage time. The Americans never recovered.
The USA began the game with the same back four that started against Algeria, keeping Onyewu on the bench with no chance for payback. Unlike at the Algeria game, the U.S. fans among the 34,976 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium were a bit unnumbered. Though American flags waved throughout the stadium, Ghana, the only African team remaining in the tournament, had the crowd behind them. "We felt the whole continent was behind us," said Ghana midfielder Andrew Ayew. "And that gave us energy."
Ghana will next meet Uruguay in the quarterfinals in Johannesburg on Friday after Uruguay defeated South Korea, 2-1, to advance. "Ghana is a very good team," Howard said. "Because it isn't Brazil, Argentina and Spain, don't be fooled."
That said, Howard said he believed that the Americans should have won the game. The U.S. team certainly had its chances. Forward Jozy Altidore seemed allergic to the goal, especially in the 80th minute when he failed to connect as he shot while falling.
This is the second consecutive World Cup in which the U.S. forward had failed to score.
"You count on everybody for goals, but let's face it, you count on your forwards," Bradley said. "I think Jozy played well in this World Cup. I think that he will continue to be an important part of the national team. Sometimes you go through a stretch where you do a lot of good things for your team, but you don't score. That's how I would size it up for him."
When the final whistle blew after 120 minutes, Donovan exchanged shirts with Mensah and then headed to his bench. There, the loss sank in. "The finality of it is brutal," Donovan said. "And you realize how much you put into it, not just four years but your whole life and there's no guarantee there's another opportunity at that.

The New York Times' analysis of the Stars' victory

There were two teams in this compelling contest at Rustenburg. As difficult as it was for the United States to go out in such a fashion, the importance of Ghana’s young, brave and ultimately undeniable victory has ramifications for the World Cup as a whole.

For Africa, a continent of 600 million people staging an event of this magnitude for the first time in its history, Ghana is now a lone star. For Ghana to field 19- and 20-year-olds and match the best qualities of the United States — in athleticism, stamina and never-say-die spirit — is what this tournament desperately needed.

As Africa’s other teams dropped out one by one, Ghana stayed strong. As America turned its greater experience to bear in the second half, Ghana had little option but to trust the one advantage it possessed: greater skill.

The goals proved it. Kevin-Prince Boateng, a midfield player born in Berlin and only last month allowed to play for Ghana, his father’s homeland, left the United States defense standing as he burst through for the first goal, in the fifth minute. Having stolen the ball from Ricardo Clark, he simply pushed on alone, outpacing all attempts to stop him.

His left-footed finish from 20 yards had the hallmark of a proven goal scorer. In fact, it was his first international strike. Boateng’s prime purpose is breaking up the opponent’s rhythm with stern tackles and perceptive interceptions. And it is a fair assumption that Ghana’s coach, Milovan Rajevac of Serbia, tells his midfield ball winners to stick to the job handed to them.

Yet in Boateng and Anthony Annan, both stepping up to the midfield plate in place of the injured Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah, Ghana has found athletes with a will to go all the way.

On defense, where Ghana again has had to thrust youth, the 19-year-old Jonathan Mensah is gifted but raw. His mistimed tackle on Clint Dempsey gave Landon Donovan the chance to tie the score on a penalty kick.

For the first time in the game, the experience and desire of the United States seemed to discourage Ghana, which was fielding six players aged 23 or younger. The World Cup is no place for callow youth — unless it is youth of exceptional skills and advanced professional toughness.

Ghana has that in abundance. Last year, some of these same players beat Brazil to win the world under-20 championship. This year, standing in after half the senior team was cut down by injuries, the youngsters played their way to the final of the African Nations Cup, losing that last match in January to Egypt.

Ghana has the most developed youth system on the continent.

There is no shame in Americans — even Americans at the peak of what they might achieve in the sport — going out in overtime to such an emerging force. There is no certainty, by any means, that Uruguay, for all its toughness as a unit, will stop Ghana’s young bloods on Friday, either.

“We’ve done it before,” Asamoah Gyan said when a South African television microphone was shoved into his face after the final whistle. “Ghana’s one of the best of the World Cup — not for Ghana alone, but for Africa.”

They really do represent this continent now. They feel it, they know it, and they do not seem fazed by it.

Gyan, who shoulders the burden of being a lone striker in this team, scored the winner. He was aided and abetted by AndrĂ© Ayew, who has been the best and most creative player in Ghana’s World Cup.

If Ayew looks soccer smart beyond his 20 years, that is because he was born into it. His father, Abedi Pele, was one of the finest players to come out of Africa and one of the reasons Ghana started investing in training its boys in hope of holding them — or at least holding their allegiance once they move to Europe’s rich clubs, as most of them do.

Ayew and Gyan play for French clubs, as does America’s captain, Carlos Bocanegra. So when Gyan chased a long pass from Ayew hit over Bocanegra’s head soon after extra time started, insider knowledge was at play.

Gyan and Bocanegra are teammates at Rennes. Bocanegra knew he wouldn’t catch Gyan in a straight sprint. He tried to bump him, but with great strength of body and mind, Gyan still got clear and still managed to keep his balance. As Jay DeMerit rushed in vain to try to catch up, the Ghanaian used yet more strength to thrash the ball over goalkeeper Tim Howard.

It was the shot of a younger, stronger, faster man. The shot that finished America and liberated the hope Africans all can share. In a television studio, the former Liberian striker George Weah, the only African player ever to win FIFA’s world player of the year honor, was possibly a shade too excited when he suggested that Ghana is a team that can win this World Cup.

But Weah always did think the improbable. He once scored a goal for A.C. Milan by dribbling the ball past seven men of Verona in one mazy run. Africans of a free spirit may not know their limitations.

Source: The New York Times 

Ghana's historic victory: The BBC says...

Ghana became only the third African side to reach the quarter-final stage at a World Cup after Asamoah Gyan smashed home an extra-time winner to knock out the USA.

The Black Stars, the only remaining African team in the tournament, have emulated Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002, and will play Uruguay at Soccer City on 2 July.

Ghana, who defeated the USA 2-1 in a crucial group match at the 2006 World Cup, appeared to have the measure of Bob Bradley's team after Kevin-Prince Boateng gave them an early lead in Rustenburg with a low strike.

But the Americans came back strongly after the break and equalised through a Landon Donovan penalty.

They seemed the most likely winners of a contest that had seen Ghana lose the drive and purpose that characterised their first-half play.

Ghana had not scored twice in a match in 2010 and both their previous goals in South Africa had come from the penalty spot, but they were the superior team in extra-time and survived some nervous final moments to seal a famous win.

Milovan Rajevac's team, playing a 4-2-3-1 system and showing incredible strength and desire, dominated the opening half to the extent that US midfielder Ricardo Clark was substituted after just 30 minutes.

The Black Stars goal after five minutes was partly the fault of the unfortunate Clark, who had his pocket picked by Boateng deep in his own half.

The Portsmouth midfielder, who made several telling runs from deep positions before fading after the break, closed in on goal before delivering a low left-foot strike from 18 yards that Tim Howard might feel he ought to have saved.

The US, who won their group, continued to create problems of their own making, with Jay DeMerit allowing a long kick downfield from Richard Kingson to reach Kwadwo Asamoah, whose low strike was brilliantly saved by Howard.

Former US president Bill Clinton watched from the stands as Ghana, sporting a distinct red and yellow striped strip, smothered their opposition, who struggled to retain possession.

But Michael Bradley did get in behind once during the opening half, while a mistake by the uncertain Jonathan Mensah resulted in Clint Dempsey playing in Robbie Findlay, but the striker's shot was well saved.

Coach Bradley had been decisive in his withdrawal of Clark and replaced striker Findley with midfield Benny Feilhaber at the break, pushing Dempsey into a more advanced position.

It was a decision that almost paid instant dividends when the substitute was played through, but a heavy first touch allowed Kingson to advance from his goal and block Feilhaber's subsequent shot.

Donovan's equaliser from the spot went in off the post after Jonathan Mensah ended Dempsey's surging run into the box with a late and clumsy challenge.

Ghana had gone completely off the boil and might have fallen behind when a ball over the top caught out their high line of defence but Kingson, who had an excellent game, was again quickly off his line to deny Jozy Altidore and, later, a low strike from Bradley.

Altidore tussled with John Mensah as Ghana struggled to deal with a long ball - and despite going to ground the US striker almost scored with a low strike.

The Americans profligacy was punished in the third minute of extra-time when Gyan showed strength and composure to control a long ball forward with his chest and bury his strike from a wide angle despite the close proximity of two defenders.

Source: BBC

FIFA favoring bigger nations, says Aussie Kewell


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World governing body FIFA are allowing players from bigger soccer nations to get away with infringements on the pitch that smaller nations' players get punished for, Australia forward Harry Kewell has said.

Kewell, who was controversially sent off in the Socceroos' 1-1 draw with Ghana at the World Cup for a handball on the goal line, said other teams were getting away with far worse at the tournament in South Africa. "What are FIFA doing about it when teams like us are getting hammered and the bigger teams don't?" Kewell told Australian media Sunday. "We've been told to play the game fair and I think we do.

"Nothing against the bigger teams but they're allowed to do it because of who and what they are."

Australia failed to make it out of the group phase at the tournament after a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Germany, in which Tim Cahill was sent off for a tackle that his opponent felt was unworthy of a red card. The Socceroos beat Serbia 2-1 in their final game, but were eliminated on goal difference.

Kewell, whose total World Cup contribution was 24 minutes against Ghana before he was sent off, added that players from the bigger teams were not getting punished for diving at the tournament.

Italy's Daniele de Rossi was pilloried by New Zealand media after his dive earned a penalty for the world champions in their 1-1 draw with the All Whites, while Kewell said a dive by Serbia's Milos Krasic in their game had also gone unpunished.

"We were told simulation should be a yellow card -- but where was the card?" Kewell added.

"I'm not having a go at him (Krasic), he tried to get a penalty for his team; but it went unpunished," he said.

Credit: Reuters

Paintsil, Annan praise for Andre

Andre Dede Ayew
Andre Dede Ayew

A little quantity back in 2008 when he earned a place in Black Stars squad for the African Nations Cup, Andre Ayew was criticized as his inclusion was questioned and condemned.

A year after, he led the Under-20 side to a historic treble, winning the West African, Africa and the FIFA World Under-20 tournament - the first by an African side.

He followed up with a fantastic performance, helping Ghana to finish runners-up at the African Nations Cup in January 2010.

Andre, who turns 21 later in December and son of former Ghana captain, Abedi Ayew Pele has certainly come off age.

His industry and work ethic has consistently earned him a starting spot in all four of Ghana's World Cup matches in South Africa. In the round of 16 clash against the United States, Andre Ayew was voted the Budweiser Man of the Match.

His talents have never been lost on his teammates as they shower the youngster with praise.

“He was great this evening,” team-mate John Paintsil told FIFA.com after Ghana reached the quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-1 extra-time success.

“I’m very happy for him. He’s imposing himself little by little in the team and he’s clearly one of the most talented players in the squad. Today he proved he could carry the whole side on his shoulders.”

“He’s a super lad,” added Anthony Annan.

“Since his arrival in the senior team, he’s always been very respectful towards the older players. He listens to their advice and worked hard to win his place. He’s not the type to always show off, even if he has the talent to justify it. We’re all very happy for him.”

Helping Ghana reach the quarter-finals, its first at the World Cup and the third by an African nation after Cameroon and Senegal, Andre credits the team's success to their team effort.

“Of course, I’m happy to have been named Man of the Match in a World Cup game at only 20,” he told FIFA.com.

“I think I had a good match, but it wasn’t en extraordinary performance either. The coach [Milovan Rajevac] put his faith in me and it was the least I could do to give everything for him.”

“Everyone played a great match tonight,” he added. “We fought like lions and showed plenty of determination and application. We deserve our place among the eight best teams in the world.”

Source: Ghanafa.org

Friday, June 25, 2010

Naadu Mills snubs Konadu Rawlings?

Mrs Enerstina Naadu Mills
Mrs Enerstina Naadu Mills
The heightened tension and animosity between the camp of President John Evans Atta Mills and former President Jerry John Rawlings, over the alleged presidential ambition of the former First Lady appears to have started way back in April, this year, on foreign frontiers.

The Chronicle intelligence picked up information on how the current First Lady, Mrs, Ernestina Naadu Mills and the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, nearly engaged in a verbal brawl at an international conference in Brussels, Belgium, which was attended by the two ladies in April, this year.

The two Stateswomen nearly created a nasty scene at the Extraordinary Session of the Crans Montana Forum on Africa, on Saturday 10th April, this year, when the First Lady declined to sit beside her predecessor on the high table. The First Lady reportedly refused to sit by the former first lady at the session, resulting in a near verbal scuffle.

But for the agility and diplomacy of the former Minister of Environment Science and Technology in the erstwhile NDC administration, Mrs. Christiana Amoako Nuamah, the two distinguished ladies would have marred what appeared to be a successful international conference.

According to sources close to the conference, the two ladies were billed to address the conference, which was attended by present and former First Ladies, alongside women of international political repute, and they had been offered seats on the high table.

The conference was under the theme – “Reaching out to the youth; and in particular – Girls – Support for their involvement in societal affairs and governance.”

The First Fady reportedly raised objection to the sitting arrangement and did not like the idea of sitting close to the founder and President of the 31st December Women’s Movement.

Myjoyonline Ghana News Photos |
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings
For some minutes, the organizers had to sort out the sitting arrangements of dignitaries on the high table, after Mrs. Naadu Mills refused to sit beside the former first lady for reasons which were not clear but which have been attributed to the perceived acrimony and bad blood between the current and former first couples, over the latter’s unbridled criticism of the NDC administration, and sometimes outright insult of President Mills.

According to information, it was the former Environment and Science Minister, Mrs. Christiana Amoako Nuamah who agreed to position herself between the two, before the matter was amicably settled.

It would be recalled that in a recent interview with the BBC, Mrs. Naadu Mills made certain comments which people perceived to be direct reference to the Rawlingses. In an answer to a question she said “it hurts to see the President being criticized, especially when whatever he does is given the wrong interpretation.

"You see, sitting in the armchair is not the same as being the pilot and holding the steering wheel. It’s not the same. If you have been a president before, perhaps conditions were different during your time. So let’s give this new President the chance to put into effect the ideas he has for this country…he wants the best for Ghana and we all should contribute to it”.

Source: The Chronicle/Ghana

Three auditors jailed 15 years for extortion


Three auditors, who extorted money from the management of TV3 Limited, to fraudulently evade tax worth several millions of cedis were on Thursday sentenced to five years imprisonment each by the Financial Court (High Court Division).

They are Joseph Agyei, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Joseph John Tei Bilson, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), on secondment to the Large Taxpayer Unit to audit TV3's taxes from 1997 to 2003. The third, Eric Duncan, is an auditor of P.O. Andah and Associates, a tax consulting firm in Accra.

They were jailed after the court presided over by Mr Justice Bright Mensah had found them guilty for conspiracy, corruption by public officer, influencing a public officer and attempting to cause financial loss to the State.

It noted that the prosecution after calling six witnesses was able to establish a case and guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt.

The accused persons after opening their defence, did not call witnesses. According to the court if their actions were not disclosed, the state would have lost about GH¢400,000, which could have been used to develop the country.

It ordered the Registrar of the court to ensure monies offered by the management of TV3 as bribe should be returned to them. The court said although, Agyei and Bilson registered their displeasure over bribe money, however, they collected GH¢4,000 each from Duncan and paid them into their respective bank accounts.

It said while Agyei stated "he got angry on receipt of the money, informed a policeman at post with his bank of the money after paying them into his account", the court wondered why he (Agyei) did not inform, the bank manager or lodge complaint with a police station rather a policeman at post at the bank.

In the case of Bilson, the court said he (Bilson) said he found the money as "unusual" yet collected it. With regard to Duncan, the court said it was evident that he collected the money, took the first tranche of GH¢10,000 out of which he gave GH¢8,000 to Agyei and Bilson. The court said when Duncan had taken the second tranche of GH¢20,000 at the premises of TV3 he was accosted by the Police.

It expressed disappointment about the refusal of the defence to file addresses. Mr Agyei Lartey, a lawyer who acted as a friend of the court pleaded for mitigation, saying, the accused persons had shown remorse for their action. He told the court that if they were given stiffer punishment it would bring untold hardships on their families. Mrs Yvonne Atakorah-Oboubisah, a Principal State Attorney reminded the court of the maximum sentence of 25 years, adding sentencing them was at the discretion of the court.

The prosecution's case was that in 2005, Agyei and Bilson were assigned to audit TV3 from 1997 to 2003. During the auditing, the two issued a draft report indicating that management of TV3 owed 12.1 billion old cedis (GH¢1.2 million cedis), however, the management objected saying the figure was high and engaged the tax consulting firm, which appointed Duncan to assist to re-audit the taxes.

Later Agyei and Bilson approached management of TV3 that they could reduce their tax if they were offered GH¢50,000. Prosecution said management of TV3 feigned interest and agreed to pay the money in three tranches, Duncan therefore collected the money from management of TV3 but gave GH¢8,000 to Agyei and Bilson after which their tax obligation was reduced to 4.3 billion old cedis( GH¢430,000).

Duncan was, however, arrested by the Police when management of TV3 handed over the second tranche of GH¢20,000 to him and the accomplices who were then waiting at a spot in Zongo Junction where Agyei was repairing his vehicle.

Source: GNA

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