JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah told his stars Wednesday to forget the 6-1 World Cup play-off thrashing they gave Egypt in Kumasi.
Captain Asamoah Gyan scored twice, Majeed Waris, Sulley Muntari and Christian Atsu once and Egypt skipper Wael Gomaa put through his own net in a stunning outcome.
The ‘Black Stars’ were favoured to win the first leg of a tie offering the overall winners a place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However, neither Appiah nor a team lacking five first choices could have dreamt of such a huge winning margin at a near-full 50,000-capacity Baba Yara Stadium Tuesday.
“We must prepare well for the return match and forget we have a five-goal advantage,” Appiah said, looking to the November 19 second leg in Cairo.
“My team dare not underestimate Egypt and their strengths after this result.”
The comments were typical Appiah — a quiet, humble 53-year-old former assistant coach of the national team who shuns media attention.
He is happiest working on the training pitch, far removed from the television cameras and microphones that have a magnetic appeal to many coaches.
“We were much quicker and the boys played very well tactically. I knew that if my players had a good day, Egypt would have no chance of containing them,” he added.
Ghana exceeded expectations by having a great day. They fluffed two chances within 100 seconds of the kick-off before Gyan scored on five minutes.
And when a successful Mohamed Abou Trika penalty close to half-time left Egypt trailing only 2-1, the ‘Black Stars’ response was swift and decisive.
Muntari floated a free-kick into the goalmouth and Waris nodded home as three Ghanaians rose challenged by a lone ‘Pharaoh’.
Egypt, a country renowned for defensive strength at national team and club levels, were torn apart by pace, power and skill with 38-year-old Gomaa a notable struggler.
Ghana could have scored 10 goals with Waris missing a second-half sitter and substitute goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawy making one superb save.
American coach Bob Bradley must dread the sight of the ‘Black Stars’ as he was in charge of the United States team eliminated by them at the 2010 World Cup.
“The dream of going to the World Cup is what kept our team united for the past two years. Now we have seen that dream become nearly impossible,” he admitted.
“I say ‘nearly impossible’ because the situation that we have put ourselves in is a very difficult one. We know this and we feel this.
“Ghana is a proud football nation. The talent of the players and the emotions of the supporters came through in Kumasi for them and they can be proud.”
Egypt were the lone country to reach the play-offs with a perfect record, only to discover that Ghana were on a different level to second-round rivals Guinea, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Post-match riots in Port Said last year that claimed 74 lives, the toppling of President Mohamed Morsi and a volatile security situation have had a huge impact on Egyptian football.
The last two editions of the national league were not completed because of security concerns, despite matches being staged behind closed doors.
Top Cairo clubs Al-Ahly and Zamalek did get some competitive action by playing in the CAF Champions League, but most of those games were also staged in empty stadiums.
Ghana, Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria qualified for the 2010 World Cup, and the same five countries are poised to reach Brazil.
Nigeria won 2-1 in Ethiopia last weekend and appear certainties while the away form of Ivory Coast suggests a 3-1 advantage over Senegal can be retained, if not increased.
A 0-0 draw in Tunisia gives Cameroon a slight edge and a suspect Burkina Faso rearguard may not be able to defend a 3-2 lead when they travel to Algeria