Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien scored one of the goals as Ghana defeated Sudan 2-0 in Accra on Sunday to become the first African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari gave the ‘Black Stars’ an early lead and Essien added a second soon after half-time, unleashing a drive that flew into the net at the near post. The result, coupled with closest challengers Benin and Mali drawing 1-1 in Cotonou a few hours earlier, left a Ghana side boasting a 100 per cent record with an unassailable seven-point Group D advantage. “It was so important to win, regardless of how we achieved the result. It is still special for us professionals to return home and bring joy to the people of Ghana,” Essien told reporters. Which coaches are for the chop “The people of Ghana wanted us to win and we did not let them down. What a fantastic feeling to be the first African country to qualify for the first World Cup to be staged in Africa.” It will be the second successive World Cup appearance for Ghana, who did best of the five African teams in Germany three years ago by reaching the second round before losing 3-0 to defending champions Brazil.
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Mali had threatened to put the Accra celebrations on hold by taking the lead through Mamadou Samassa on 71 minutes only for Mohamed Aoudou to level three minutes from full-time. Meanwhile, Tunisia snatched a 2-2 draw in Nigeria thanks to a 90th-minute Oussama Darragi goal in a top-of-the-table Group B clash, to maintain a two-point advantage with two matches left. A capacity 60,000 crowd saw Osaze Odemwingie fire the ‘Super Eagles’ into the lead from close range only for Nabil Taider to level soon after. Michael Eneramo poked a a cross into the net 10 minutes from full-time to put the home side ahead again only for Darragi to level from an acute angle. Mozambique edged Kenya 1-0 in the same group courtesy of a goal midway through the second half from veteran striker Manuel Bucuane. Tunisia have eight points, Nigeria six, Mozambique four and Kenya three with the leaders chasing a fourth consecutive World Cup finals appearance. Adel Taarabt scored two minutes into stoppage time as Morocco claimed a 1-1 draw away to Togo in their Group A clash. Togo led from the fourth minute through Moustapaha Salifou as they returned to Lome after a three-match ban following post-match violence at a 2008 African Nations Cup qualifier. Gabon have six points, Togo five, Cameroon four and Morocco three although Cameroon have a chance to go top on Wednesday when they host the surprise pacesetters in Yaounde.