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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 6, 2009

African Qualifiers: Ghana are first to book place

Ghana became the first African nation to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after a 2-0 victory over Sudan in Accra sealed their place in the finals.

The Black Stars, who made their first appearance at the 2006 tournament in Germany, booked their ticket to South Africa after Benin and Mali could only manage a 1-1 draw during their game earlier in the day.

That left Milovan Rajevac's needing a win at the Ohene Djan Stadium and, in front of a capacity 45,000 spectators, they did not disappoint. Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari broke the deadlock after 13 minutes, before Chelsea star Michael Essien doubled the advantage after 53 minutes to make it four wins from four for the west Africans in Group D.

They join hosts South Africa, Brazil, Holland, Japan, Australia, South Korea and North Korea in the finals, becoming the eighth confirmed finalists.

The other match in the pool ended disappointingly for both Benin and Mali, who had to settle for a draw. In a tense encounter in Cotonou, the visitors broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute thanks to Mamadou Diallo, but Mohamed Aoudou grabbed an equaliser a minute from the end.

Nigeria's chances to qualify for the global showpiece took a massive dent after Oussama Darragi scored against them in stoppage-time to snatch a 2-2 draw for Tunisia.

The Super Eagles, who went into the match trailing their opponents and Group B leaders by two points, looked on course for victory after Michael Eneramo put them 2-1 up with 10 minutes remaining. Peter Odemwingie (23) had put the home side ahead in Abuja, before Nabil Taider (25) equalised, but the late drama means that destiny is no longer in the hands of Shaibu Amodu's team.

In the other game in the pool, Mozambique moved to within two points of the Nigerians after Manuel Tico-Tico (67) scored the only goal to lift them to a 1-0 win over Kenya in Maputo.

There was also plenty of drama in Lome, where Adel Taarabt netted an injury equaliser to deny Togo all three points. In what is turning out to be the most tightly contest Group A, Moustapha Salifou's fourth-minute strike looked to have put the Sparrow Hawks on course for all three points. However, midfielder Taarabt had the final say at the Kegue Stadium to help the Atlas Lions keep their qualification chances alive.

They remain bottom of the group with three points from four games, one behind Cameroon (four), Togo (five) and Gabon (six). The Indomitable Lions and the Gabonese, though, have a game in hand.

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