World XI beat Africa XI in Essien’s Peace Charity match
A select World XI team beat Africa XI 4-2 in a peace charity match held on Wednesday at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra.
The star-studded match, organised by Black Stars midfielder Michael Essien in collaboration with the African Union (AU) was to promote and highlight the importance of peace on the continent.
Coinciding with the AU Day, which is celebrated on May 25 every year, the Peace Charity game, an innovation as far as Ghana is concerned was witnessed by a record crowd, who filled every seat and corner of the 40,000-capacity National Stadium.
The attendance will arguably pass for the biggest ever at the former Accra Sports Stadium since being renovated in 2006 for the Ghana 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, and one that will serve the envy of most local clubs.
With a line-up of current and retired footballers from Africa and the rest of the world, the assemblage was huge as both young and old thrilled the expectant crowd.
Leading the World XI was Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole, with the likes of Chelsea team mate Flourent Malouda, Matt Lockwood (Dunde), Dutchman, Nigel De Jong (Manchester City), Swedish star, Freddie Ljunberg (Celtic), Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Ellis Tebbutt (Liecester City), and local players Stephen Baidoo, Augustine Ahinful, Felix Aboagye, Yaw Preko as well as Chelsea reserves Nick Hamann, Oliver Norburn, Fabio Ferreira and Scott Smith.
Ghanaian-born ex-France International Marcel Desailly was the coach of the World XI team.
Essien captained the Africa XI team that featured past African Footballers of the Year made up Rabah Madjer (Algeria), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia), Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria), Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor (Togo) and Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire).
Other members of the team were ex-Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah, current Black Stars captain John Mensah, Samuel Inkoom, Asamoah Gyan, John Paintsil, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Tony Yeboah and Richard Kingson.
Ivorian Salomon Kalou and Nigerians Daniel Amokachi, Yakubu Ayigbeni Amokachi, Christopher Kanu, kid brother of Nwankwo Kanu completing the African team with Liberia legend George Oppong Weah as coach.
The match lived up to expectations as players such as Madjer, Kalusha, Yeboah, Preko, Aboagye, Baidoo and Appiah proved to all that they still had some football in their boots.
Kalusha fired the African team into the lead early in the game by heading home a John Paintsil cross past keeper Hamann.
Chelsea youngster Smith finally drew parity by tapping in after Owusu-Abeyie’s run past the ex-Bayern Munich defender.
Preko made it 2-1 before half time for the World XI with an acute shot that beat keeper Kingson for the second time.
Fans favourite substitute Drogba leveled on 58 minutes before further strikes from Malouda and Cole sealed victory for the World XI team.
Musicians Samini and Castro wowed the crowd with dazzling performances aided by ace comedian Funny Face.
After the match, all the participating players were presented with medals for their efforts in the peace awareness creation on the continent.