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Coach Otto Addo hails resilience of Black Stars after World Cup qualification

Ghana stand-in coach Otto Addo believes the determination of the Black Stars players to qualify for the World Cup was key in sealing the spot ahead of Nigeria.

The four-time African champions secured their place at the tournament in Qatar later this year when they held their arch-rivals Nigeria 1-1 in Abuja on Tuesday.

The result means that Ghana qualifies for the global tournament on away goals rule after they two sides played out to a goalless draw in the first-leg in Kumasi on Friday.

Thomas Partey had given Ghana an 11th minute lead in Abuja before William Troost Ekong levelled for the Super Eagles in the 22nd minute.

Partey broke the deadlock with a sleek shot from the edge of the box with keeper Francis Uzoho seeing the ball sneak between his body and the ground, a dream start for the visitors.

The Super Eagles fought to get on level terms and they did so in the 22nd minute from the penalty spot awarded after a lengthy VAR check.

Ademola Lookman was clipped inside the box by Dennis Odoi and Ekong stepped up to score and put Nigeria firmly back in contention.

But the Ghanaian put up a resolute second half performance by soaking in the pressure from Nigeria and saw off the result after 90 minutes.

Ghana coach Addo, who is a former international and a part of the Black Stars 2006 World Cup team, hailed his players for their determination to clinch the slot.

“I’m really delighted, exhausted, it was a tough match and we fought our way through”, Otto Addo said in a post match interview.

“We had big big problems especially in the first half, and through some changes, the players gave their tactics very well and still they [the Nigerians] had some good chances.”

Nigerian players reacts in disappointment after defeat, Leon Balogun of Nigeria during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Nigeria and Ghana at Abuja National Stadium, Abuja, Nigeria on 29 March 2022

Despite praising his players for the victory, the Ghana coach reserved some praise for the Nigerians and expressed his sympathy for the Super Eagles who fought over both legs.

“Our goalkeeper was there when we needed him and we had a little bit of luck also, because if you see the chances the Nigerians were better.

“I feel a bit pity for them but this is football, sometimes and we fought our way through”, the Black Stars coach said..

Addo did not forget the contribution of his predecessors for the work they did, claiming it culminated in their World Cup qualification.

The former winger took over from Milovan Rajevac who was sacked after the country’s unimpressive showing at the recent AFCON in Cameroon last month.

Rajevac was named to replace Charles ‘CK’ Akonnor before the AFCON and Addo says their contribution to the Black Stars should not be overlooked.

“This was only two games. There was a lot of work which was done before. For Milo Rajevac, for CK Akunnor, we are all in this together,” Addo said.

Addo Otto - GFA Images

Ghana qualified for their fourth World Cup after edging out Nigeria on the away goal rule following a 1-1 draw in Abuja.

The two sides drew 0-0 in the first leg in Kumasi last week and heading into the return fixture, the Ghanaians only needed a scoring draw to progress.

And they did exactly that, qualifying for the World Cup after missing the 2018 showpiece in Russia. For Nigeria, this is the first time they will be missing the World Cup since 2006.

cafonline

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