Exactly 16 years today, the U-23 team of Ghana, Black Meteors were denied a place in the Sydney Summer Olympics, after they suffered a 0-3 defeat to Cameroon
Embarrassing and painful as the defeat may be to the Meteors, it was a sweet revenge for the Cameroonians who atoned for a similar defeat at the hands of the Ghanaians in a similar qualifying match at the Kumasi Stadium four years ago. With a hurriedly assembled side parading for the Meteors, the Ghanaians had very little chance of making any headway against the Cameroonians who fielded a more cohesive and physically stronger side. And the Cameroonians who have never beaten a Ghanaian national side but are fast becoming a bogey side to Ghana, could not have a sweeter icing to their cake as their striking progidy, Samuel Eto Fils, well remembered for his exploits with the current African champions, the Indomitable Lions, struck twice and set up another as the Young Lions devoured the Meteors. The Lions almost opened the scoring right from the blast of FIFA referee Falla Ndaye of Senegal?s whistle but had to wait till the second half before striking the right chords for victory. Indeed, the Meteors showed some little hope of at least making an houourable exit from the competition when they held the more purposeful Cameroonians to a goalless drawn first half which saw the two coming close to scoring especially in the first 30 minutes of the game.
While the Cameroonians showed such resilience in defence and a solid midfield and exhibited the entertaining free-flowing, well-coordinated style of play, the Ghanaians had problems putting their act together in the rear while they simply failed to click in midfield and upfront. The defence built around Kofi Amoako, Issah Rahman, Hamza Mohammed and Abdul Razak had herculan task of keeping an eye on the fast-paced Eto Fils, Patrick Suffo and substitute Albert Neyong who came in for George Mbida. And Kofi Amoako, the strongman in the Meteors defence, did a yeoman?s job by virtually foiling all the moves of Eto Fils, playing him out of the game at certain points in the match. But whatever job well executed by the enterprising Amoako came to naught as his exit in the 19th minute became the doom of the Meteors as there was no worthy substitute for him when he got injured and was substituted by forward player Michael Osei. Five minutes after going out, Eto Fils got the breathing space to create and score the goals his side needed.
He capitalised on a ball that was not properly cleared by the Meteors defence and after going through the loose defence, he struck from an acute right angle which deflected off the body of goalkeeper Sammy Adjei and zoomed into the net. Peter Ofori Quaye who had difficulty striking a partnership with Issa Mohammed, tried to make amends for the Meteors but Jean Boli and Patrice Abanda who were stuck to him like ticks, gave him very little room to operate. Not even the presence of striker Nana Arhin Duah who came in for Hamza Mohammed could bring the Ghanaians any luck. Amidst the confusion in the Meteors defence, the Cameroonians increased their tally and ultimately burst the bubble of the Meteors. Operating from the right which was leaking terribly from the absence of Amoako, Eto Fils, moved deep into the 18-yard box of the Ghanaians and spotting an unmarked Neyong, crossed the ball to him at the far left to shoot past the goalie. That was in the 79th minute.
Three minutes later, Eto- Fils crowned the day with a third goal for his side when he intercepted a ball from about 20 yards from the Meteors goal area, took a solo run and went on unchallenged by the Ghanaian defenders to beat goalkeeper Adjei by tapping the ball behind him to complete the demolition exercise for his side.