Tunisian side Esperance beat Egypt’s Al Ahly in the second leg of the semi final tie of the 2010 Caf Champions League by a solitary, highly disputed goal.
A first minute Michael Eneramo header sent the November 7 Stadium agog Sunday evening but television replays proved the ball was helped on by Eneramo’s hand – a classic Maradona “hand of God’ style.
The Nigerian striker who is the campaign’s top scorer thus extends his tally to eight goals.
Ahly’s woes were deepen in the 29th minute with the sending-off of midfielder Mohammed Barakat.
Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey showed the red card to Barakat for slapping an Esperance player in the face.
The first half thus finished with the homers recording 1-0 lead which makes the tie 2-2 on aggregate and puts Esperance firmly in the driving seat on the away goal rule as the rains came down in Rades.
With all the action in the first half, the second half was played along more tactical lines.
As Ahly pressed for the much needed away goal, Esperance looked content with soaking the pressure only to hit their opponents on the break.
Chances in the second half were far in between with constant stoppages due to consistent fouling and time delay by the homers.
With all substitutions made, coach of the six-times African Champion, Hossam Badri could only watch on the sidelines as the ‘Red Devils’ hope of making this year’s finals kept wearing away with time.
And so it was, Esperance pipped their north African rivals on the away goal rule with a goal that the Ahly faithfuls will hope to forget very quickly – it wont be easy though.
Esperance will now take on defending champions TP Mazembe of the DRC in the final with the Congolese side hosting the first leg on the weekend of 29th, 30th and 31st of October.
Just a day after hosts South Africa were humiliated by the Uruguayans, yet another African team in Nigeria will have to deal with the bitter disappointment of defeat as they slumped to a 2-1 at the hands of Greece.
A second goal in the 70th minute from Greek midfielder Vassilis Torosidis after Vincent Enyeama failed to hold on to a ferocious strike from outside the goal area practically gifting the ball to the rugged midfielder who made no mistakes in guiding the ball home.
This was all after Dimitris Salpingidis had pulled even following a 16th minute goal from Kalou Uche with Nigeria ending the first half a man down after Sani Kaita received his marching orders for retaliation.
Nigeria could have added to their tally early in the second half when Hoffenheim’s Chinedu Obasi missed an absolute sitter after Greek goalie Tzorvas had pushed a Yakubu Ayigbeni’s shot into his path, but the youngster failed to capitalize to the bemusement of his coach Lars Largerback on the bench.
The score line could have got even worse but for the agility of Enyeama who once again ended up on the loosing side despite putting in another impressive performance.
The win brings Otto Rehagel’s side back into the fray with the Nigerians almost certain to bite the dust after the group stages.
The Super Eagles would now have to beat South Korea on Wednesday to stand any chance of making the knock out rounds.
The Greek side on the other hand has recorded their first win ever in the World Cup finals diminishing the African challenge in the process.
Africans in particular, Nigerian hearts breathed easy as Almeria’s Kalou Uche’s harmless but temptious free kick found its way to the back of the Greek net to give the Super Eagles a deserved first half lead.
A resulting free kick taken by Uche surprisingly ended up in the Greek net after Lukman Haruna had been felled 25 yards out on the 16th minute mark.
Though a scrappy game, the Nigerians are making frantic efforts to keep the ball on the turf in order to impose their play but Otto Rehagel’s men will not allow it.
They however would have to do it the hard way after seeing their defensive midfielder Sani Kaita sent off 10 minutes from half time for retaliation even though his Greek counterpart seemed to have exaggerated his act.
Vincent Enyeama in post once more again emerged Nigeria’s hero as he stopped a clear shot from Dimitris Salpingidis after Karagounis has put him through clear on goal.
Their persistence however paid off in the 44th minute when Dimitris Salpingidis’s shot deflected off Haruna to pull even.
Nigeria are looking very shaky since the sending off and would have to pull something out of their surprise bag to secure victory against a Greek side which smells blood and are pushing for the kill.
A sending off and a 3-0 defeat to Uruguay was not what South Africans were expecting at the start of their second group game.
A 75th minute penalty was perfectly placed by Diego Forlan following the sending off of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune after he fell Luis Suarez denying him of a clear goalscoring opportunity after he has beaten the offside trap.
The Athletico Madrid forward had earlier given the South Americans the lead in the first half when his deflected shot off Aaron Mokoena beat Khune in post from 20 yards.
Noisy sounds made from the vuvuzela’s by a packed house was not intimidating enough for the Uruguayans as they dealt a massive blow to the host nation which further weakens the African challenge in the African World Cup.
Just when one thought it couldn’t get worse, a defensive blunder opened the door for Parreira who made no mistakes in stamping the ball at the back of the net aggravating the pain of the home faithful.
Bafana Bafana will now need a miracle which will be heavily dependent tomorrow’s game between Mexico and France to stand any chance of qualification into the knock out stages.
South Africa will now have to deal with the heavy disappointment at least until the team take to the field again in their last match against former world champions France.
A 24th minute Diego Forlan goal made all the difference as a seemingly confused Bafana failed to create a single decent goal scoring opportunity capping a disappointing first half.
Out of nothing just outside South Africa’s penalty area, an unmarked Forlan was given too much time to pick his spot with a fierce strike that deflected off captain Aaron Mokoena on its way in leaving Khune in post completely rooted to his spot.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira will have to bring all his arsenals in the second half to save South Africa’s stuttering World Cup campaign from a very comfortable Uruguayan side.
Even the introduction of Didier Drogba was not enough to secure a victory for the last African side to clear its first group match.
The Ivoirians failed to create a clear cut goal scoring opportunity throughout the game even though they dominated some parts of the game.
On the other hand, it will be the first time the Portuguese team recorded a draw in the opening match at the World Cup.
The result also meant that Ghana remains the only African side to have secured all three points in the first round of matches in the tournament – South Africa the closest with a draw against Mexico.
Drogba with his recuperating arm could have won the match in the 90th minute for the Elephants when his misguided shot drilled of target in Ivory Coast’s clearest chance.
A point appease was the final verdict of they game as they wait to see their fate on the table when five-time world champions Brazil take on Korea DPR in the late kickoff.
The hosts will look for an improved performance and most importantly, a positive result against Uruguay as they kick start Africa’s campaign in the second round of matches on Wednesday.
An eventful and highly entertaining first half some how failed to produce any goals with both teams having a fair share of possession.
Change in tactics by Ivorian coach Sven Goran-Erikson sees Seville’s Didier Zokora partner Manchester City’s Kolo Toure who was handed the captains armband as after Didier Drogba was passed not fit enough to start in defence.
They almost went behind earlier in the half when a power drive from Cristiano Ronaldo shoved off Barry’s post form 22 yards.
The Elephants however responded with an impressive passing game but failed to provide the killer ball to the three prone attack which includes Salomon Kalou, Gervinho and Aruna Dindane.
It is also however not clear if the Swede coach of Ivory Coast will at a point in time call upon Chelsea’s Didier Drogba to provide the needed cutting edge as he applauded the moves of his colleagues with his injured arm from the bench.
Cameroon disappointed many by becoming the third African side to suffer yet another 1-0 defeat at the hands of Japan.
A 39th minute strike from CSKA Moscow’s Keinsuke Honda proved enough to take all three points at stake against Paul Le Guen’s men.
Even a late introduction of Iddrisou to compliment the fire power Samuel Eto’o coupled with late attacking surge which pinned the Japanese to their own half was not good enough to salvage even a point for the Indomitable Lions.
Ironically, all three losses for the African sides came with just a solitary goal showing clearly the difficulty in finding the back of the net which has plagued the continent in recent times.
Even the only African win courtesy Ghana and the South African draw came with just a single goal.
In the end it was a deserved victory for the Japanese as they looked the more compact and organized side on the day.
It can only get difficult but not impossible for Paul Le Guen’s men who would now have to overcome a skillful Dutch as well as a talented Danish side to progress to the second round of the 2010 World Cup.
Japan walk towards the dressing room the happier of the two as CSKA Moscow’s
Keisuke Honda gave the Blue Samurai’s a deserving lead in the 39th minute.
It was a simple tap in the end for Honda as he was left completely unmarked to connect with a Matsui cross 3 yards out.
With Samuel Eto’o operating from wide right, lone front man Webo is finding it difficult to get a sniff at goal as the Cameroonian midfield lacks creativity.
Paul Le Guen has undoubtedly a lot of work to do at half time precisely in midfield if he has any intensions of salvaging anything from the game.