Stars Lost to Division 3 Players
South Africa created the first shock of the 2011 African Nations Championship with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against Ghana in Sudan Saturday.
Most of the winning team play for third-tier league clubs as Premiership and first division sides refused to release their stars for a tournament restricted to home-based footballers.
Ghana, runners-up to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first African Nations Championship two years ago, boasted a strong mix of experience and youth and their build-up included two weeks at high altitude in Kenya.
The script began predictably in Wad Medani, a regional centre south of Sudanese capital Khartoum, with Daniel Larbi scoring on 39 minutes for the Ghanaians. But a South African team that left their country without fanfare after a two-week training camp in north-east city Nelspruit rocked the west Africans when Collins Zimba levelled on the hour mark.
And worse was to follow for Ghana as Bheki Shabangu struck five minutes before full-time to earn South Africa victory and top place on the Group B table on goals scored.
Niger joined them on three points after edging Zimbabwe 1-0 in the second half of a double-header through a 75th-minute goal from midfielder Abdelkader Amadou.
The result stunned Zimbabwe coach Madinda Ndlovu, who boasted before the kick-off that his squad were capable of going all the way and winning the February 25 final.
Zimbabwe suffered a series of blows since qualifying last year with nine of the successful team quitting the politically troubled southern Africa state to join clubs in South Africa, Libya and Cyprus.
Niger caused the shock of the regional elimination competition by defeating Nigeria 2-0 in Niamey and forcing a goalless second-leg draw to reach the final of a senior Pan-African tournament for the first time.
Uganda finished with nine men as they fell 2-0 to Algeria in Khartoum-based Group A with the goals coming from Abdelmounem Djabou on 17 minutes and Hilal Soudani just past the hour mark.
Reckless tackles led to red cards for Uganda captain Owen Kasule when his team trailed by one goal and striker Tony Odour midway through the second half of a match staged in scorching early afternoon heat.
DR Congo, title favourites with 11 players from 2010 Club World Cup runners-up TP Mazembe in their sqaud, tackle Cameroon in Omdurman Sunday followed by Ivory Coast against Mali.
Stephen Adams-John Ashong, Awudu Nafiu, Emmanuel Ansong, Godfred Saka-Larbi Coomson, Abdul Basit, Yaw Alexander, Bismark Idan-Emmauel Clottey,Gilbert Fiamenyo.
Scorer: – LARBI COOMSON DANIEL 37 min Ghana
ZIMBA COLLEN ELLEX 60 min S.Africa
SHABANGU B.LEONARD 84 min S.Africa