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The Hawks of Togo, secured a lone goal victory over an unimpressive Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the opening match of Group A of the joint Africa/World Cup qualifier played at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra, on Saturday.
But for the 77th minute penalty blown off by live-wire Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor, the Togolese would have ran away with a 2-0 win over the Cameroonians, who had every opportunity in the second half to win the day but failed to put their acts together when it mattered most.
Honouring their last match of the four match home ban imposed on them by the Confederation of Africa (CAF) for crowd violence, the Togolese who enjoyed massive support from local fans, were the dominant side in the early stages of the game, with Adebayor missing a fourth minute scoring opportunity, when his header from Salifou Moustapha’s cross was parried off by Idris Carlos Kameni in post for Cameroon.
Prior to the miss, the Cameroonians had made a third minute attempt at scoring but also failed as the game centered momentarily in midfield, but it was the Togolese who broke off again in the 10th minute and had the opener through Adebayor.
Adebayor, even though looked unfit for the game after a long injury spell, trapped a perfect cross delivered onto his path by Ramao Alaixys, shrugged off a challenge from Andre Bikey before firing into the net for the only goal of the match.
The goal drew a swift but temporal reaction from the Cameroonians, who relied on long balls into the Togolese goal area in search of an equalizer, which never came their way allowing the home team to recover from the onslaught.
Both sides from thereon engaged in series of exchanges to gain supremacy, but none created a clear cut chance until the 43rd minute, when Komlan Amewou’s timely intervention denied Somen A Tchoyi the equalizer, whilst an injury time free-kick from Geremi Njitap was beautifully tapped off by keeper Obilale Kodjovi.
The resultant corner was wasted leaving the Togo’s lone goal lead intact at the close of the first half.
The Lions had a bigger share of the second half following the introduction of Eric Djemba Djemba, Stephane Mbia and Paul Alo’O for Ngome Daniel, Webo Pierre and Modeste Mbami respectively.
Djemba Djemba’s presence in the Cameroonian team brought stability in their midfield, whilst Alo’O was a real tormentor for the Togolese defence as they ensured constant pressure on the defence.
They were however unable to find the equalizer as Samuel Eto’O Fills had his goal bound shot saved by keeper Obilale in the 47th minute with Makoun’s connection to Alo’O’s cross well dealt with by the Togolese keeper.
It was a half that belonged to the Indomitable Lions as they created series of decent chances but with Tchoyi, Eto’O and Makoun failing to have the right direction for the much needed goal as they continued to mess up the chances that came their way.
Relying on occasional counter breaks, the Togolese succeeded in one of such raids, when Adebayaor took on the Cameroonian defence as he wove his way into the goal area before he was pushed down by Njitap for Egyptian referee Abd Fatah Essam El Deen to point to the penalty spot.
The Togolese captain elected himself for the kick and the partisan crowd were up to celebrate another goal but were disappointed as the Arsenal striker shot over the bar in the 77th minute.
The Cameroonians again took the opportunity to re-launch another round of attack on the Togolese in the last quarter of the game in search for the level, but this did not work for them due to the excellent work done by the defensive system coupled with the agility of keeper Obilale to keep their lead intact till the close of the game.
Six yellows cards were recorded in the match with Adebayor, Amewou, Obilaye and Gaffar Abdoul going into the books from the Togolese whilst Bikey and Njitap got booked on the part of the Cameroonians.
Togo: Obilale Kodjovi, Nibombe Dare, Emmanuel Adebayor, Richard Forsour, Gafar Abdoul, Salifou Moustapha/Senaya Junior, Amewou Komlan, Thomas Dossevi, Sheriff Toure/Kassim Gouyazou, Akapko Sege, Ramao Alaixys
Cameroon: Kameni Iddriss, Song Rigobert, Geremi Njitap, Bikey Andre Amougou, Assou Renoit, Mbami Modeste/Stephane Mbia, Makoun Jean, Ngome Daniel/Djemba Djemba, Somen Tchoyi, Samuel Eto’O Fils, Webo Pierre/ Alo’O Paul