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The Hawks of Togo, the national Team A of the small West A frican nation, commenced their campaign to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa an d the African Cup of Nations in Angola with a lone goal victory over the Chipolopolo of Zambia in a Group 11 clash at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra on Saturday.

The Hawks used Accra as their home because of a three match home ban imposed on them by CAF as a result of crowd violence after a Ghana 2008 qualifier against Mali.

The early dominance of the West Africans led to a 16th minute spectacular goals cored by Olufade Adekanmi who spiked home a sizzler after being set up Arsenal striker Emanuel Adebayor. It was a great goal by all standards but it was all the h osts could offer as they allowed the Zambians to take control and dictate the pace at will.

In a group which has only Swaziland as the other competitor, the win gives the Togolese an advantage as they settle on top of the standings on three points with Swaziland having an off-day.

Togo led by Adebayor got off the blocks early in impressive style with the English-based player creating anxious moments for the Zambian rearguard any time he had the ball.

In one of such runs on 11 minutes, Adebayor raced past William Chinyama before laying a perfect cross, but the absence of a Togolese player in the box to tap in let the visitors off the hook.

Five minutes later, Olufade broke the deadlock by finishing off a three-man move with Eric Akoto and Adebayor.

Ghanaian-born midfielder Akoto took the ball from the middle, raced past his marker and back-heeled to Adebayor who located Olufade. The Belgium-based striker shot past Zambia goalie Kennedy Mweene for the opener.

Zambia responded positively with persistent raids into the Togolese half, and it nearly paid off on the half hour mark as speedster Clifford Mulenga struck the cross bar after Isaac Chansa had put him through.

The Hawks almost doubled their lead on 40 minutes but Komla Amewou, who had replaced Akoto five minutes earlier, saw his thunderbolt from a free-kick dealt with decently by Mweene.

Zambia’s coach Herve Renard introduced Emmanuel Mayoka for Rodger Kola on resump tion of the second half and he brought more bite into their attack.
Mulenga, who remained a nuisance to the Togolese defence throughout the game, came close to drawing parity for the Chipolopolo in the 60th and 68th minutes, but his goal bound efforts were deflected off target by Kakla Eninful and Nibombe Da r e respectively.

Zambia had the upper hand for the greater part of the second half but inaccurate shooting robbed them of an equalizer.

Their plight was further worsened after Burkinabe referee Pare Lassina disallowed a seemingly perfect goal scored by Felix Katongo on the stroke of full time for offside positioning.

Zambia next plays Swaziland in Mbabane in the group, which will see only team progressing to the second round of the qualifiers.

Togo: Cedric Mensah, Dare Nibombe, Yao Senaya, Adebayor Emmanuel, Tchangai Massamasso/ Moumouni Abdoul Djabaro, Enninful Kakla, Robert Malm/Yao Senaya Junior, Eric Ako t o/Komla Amewou, Olufade Adekanmi, Romao Alexys, Mamar Gafar

Zambia: Kennedy Mweene, William Chinyama, Chintu Kapamba, Billy Mwanza, Joseph Musonda, Francis Kasonde/James Chamanga, Christopher Katongo, Felix Katongo, Isaac Chansa , Rodger Kola/Emmanuel Mayoka, Clifford Mulenga
 
Accra – 31/05/2008

Pana

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