By Joe ChapmanTHE inaugural Linden Mayor’s Cup football championship got off to a solid start with 2-0 wins by Capital FC over Amelia’s Ward Panthers and Blueberry Hill United putting away Hi Stars to open the tournament at the Mackenzie sports Club ground Sunday night.Both Capital FC and Blueberry Hill United, by virtue of their wins, have advanced to the quarter-finals in what is a straight knockout championship. Mayor of Linden, Waneka Arrendell, was there for the kick- off.The wins followed the opening ceremony of the twelve participating clubs and after the initial exchanges in the first game involving Capital FC and Amelia’s Ward Panthers, things were generally even.But Capital FC got early chances within the first five minutes before both sides settled down but were unable to hit the back of the net. However, before the first-half whistle Capital FC were rewarded with the first goal of the tournament.Capital FC got a play which developed from a right side cross and Johnny Waldron relayed to his teammate who, in trying to chest the ball, saw it being partially touched by the Panthers defender. However, Waldron was there and intercepted to control the ball and get off a surprise right-foot shot from the edge of the right side of the six-yard box which flew past a dazed Amelia’s Ward Panthers goalkeeper for a 1-0 score.That 1-0 score would remain at the end of the first half.The second goal would come late for the Capital FC and it was when Andre Mayers received a long pass from Lewis Franklin which he ran on to and eluded the on-coming Hi Stars goalkeeper to nudge it home to the last post for a 2-0 winning margin.In the second game, things were even until Blueberry Hill got the breakthrough they were trying for throughout the game, after the scores at half-time read 0-0. However, this would change and in the 61st minute as Mark Andrews slipped the ball for the darting Roydell Archer who, from just inside the 18 yards box, found the back of the net to make it 1-0 for Blueberry Hill.The second goal would come with the confident Blueberry Hill side now in full flow and Mark Andrews entered into the opponents half and was fouled.The free-kick awarded from beyond 25 yards was taken by Wayne Wilson and the ball soared high and landed over the Hi Stars goalkeeper’s head, surprising all, to score in the 77th minute to make it 2-0 in favour of the side from Blueberry Hill.This score remained unchanged and ensured the Blueberry Hill boys a safe passage into the quarterfinals where they will face Net Rockers.Come Friday, two more matches will be played with the first between Silver Shattas and Coomacka Mines at 19.00hrs and the second bringing together Milerock Select and Topp XX from 21.00hrs.
South Africa-based Mohammed Awal believes he is ready to fill in as a reliable defender for his injured colleague John Boye for the Black Stars crucial World Cup playoff against Egypt.Ghana’s defence stands depleted going into the crunch first leg match of the playoff tie against the record African Cup winners on 15 October in Kumasi.Head coach Kwesi Appiah must manage without three key central defenders against the Pharaohs.Isaac Vorsah has been sidelined by a long term knee injury while John Boye is also out as he prepares for surgery on a troublesome pubic injury.Jonathan Mensah has also had to withdraw from the October 15 clash due to a thigh injury while in action for his French club Evian TG.This means Ghana will present a new set of defenders in the expected high-tension game in Kumasi. But Awal who plays for South African club Maritzburg United says he is ready to become a successful back up plan for Appiah.“I am always waiting for the opportunity to play so if I am given the opportunity I will display myself for Ghanaians to see,” he said.“If someone is not there, somebody else can come and play and I believe I am ready to help the nation.”Awal will be competing with Rashid Sumaila, Jerry Akaminko and Edwin Gyimah for a place in Ghana’s defence against Egypt on October 15.Ghana want to record a resounding victory over Egypt to reduce the return encounter a month later to a mere formality.