ACCRA: Ghana need only a draw against Morocco on Monday to guarantee their quarter-final berth at the African Nations Cup after Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo earned the hosts a 1-0 win over Namibia on Thursday.
Namibia s second straight loss means they will be heading off to the airport irrespective of what happens in their final Group A tie against Guinea with valuable lessons learned ahead of their bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
This was the second game of the day in Accra, the first producing something of an upset when Guinea, reduced to 10 men for much of the second half, beat Morocco 3-2.
These two results left Ghana heading Group A on six points, with Morocco and Guinea both on three with all to play for come Monday.
We may not have played fantastically well but we ve still got six points from our first two games, said Ghana coach Claude Le Roy.
That leaves us needing only a draw to top the group.
I knew Namibia wouldn t lose 5-1 against us like they did in their first match. They were well organized, compact in defense.
Now we ve got Morocco, we only need a draw but we ll play to win. We ll be ready for them on Monday at five o clock.
Chelsea mid-fielder Michael Essien, the man of the match, added: I think this game was much better than the first one. People were expecting us to come up with more goals, but the most important thing is the six points.
Guinea coach Arie Schans said he was proud of his players.
This was a big difference to our first game when the players appeared nervous.
This time we showed we could play good football. Now our next goal with a bit of luck will be to pick up three points against Guinea.
West Ham right back John Pantsil, who was flown to Nigeria on Wednesday for a scan after suffering concussion against Guinea, was a surprise starter allowing Claude Le Roy to name the same line up for the second consecutive match.
Namibia made three changes, with Dutchman Schans switching goalkeepers after Monday s 5-1 drubbing, Abisai Shiningayamwe making way for Athiel Mbaha.
Ghana, marshaled by Essien in midfield, made clear their intent from the whistle, taking up permanent residence in the Brave Warriors territory yet the underdogs kept them at bay for the first 30 minutes.
Given that they were 4-0 down by the break against Morocco, the goalless score line up to the 40th minute spoke volumes for Namibia s newfound resilience, their coach s comment that they d played like schoolkids against the Moroccans had obviously hurt.
The Group A underdogs were fortunate to be let off though when Udinese striker Asamoah Gyan hit the ball over Mbaha s bar from six yards out.
And just as the solace of half time beckoned Ghana got what seemed was their inevitable reward for all their hard work when Agogo slotted home rather clumsily from near point blank range after Quincy Owusu Abeyie s cross from the right four minutes from the interval.
Shortly after the resumption Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari, responsible for the match winner over Guinea, had the Ohene Djan Stadium roaring when he unleashed one of his trademark long shots at Attiel, the ball on this occasion sailing over the crossbar.
Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingston then picked up a booking for a too hastily taken free kick meaning he ll miss the all important game on Monday, leaving his brother, Hearts midfielder Laryea, to uphold family honor against Morocco.
On the hour mark Le Roy took off Laryea Kingston, replacing him with Marseille starlet, Andre Ayew.
The second half mirrored the preceding one, with Ghana harrying the Namibian defense which again performed manfully to deny the forecast deluge of goals from Muntari and co.
Namibia weren t without their chances, their talismanic Hamburg midfielder Collin Benjamin just shooting wide of the far post in the 75th minute but Ghana weren t about to let this one get away.