Belhanda injury worry for Morocco, Ghana impress

11 January 2013 12:47

Morocco are concerned about injured star Younes Belhanda, Ghana impress in a warm-up and weary Zambia drop a friendly as the clock ticks toward the January 19 Africa Cup of Nations kick-off.

Midfielder Belhanda from French champions Montpellier tore a muscle training in Johannesburg, according to a team medical official, and faces a Saturday fitness test.

Losing the playmaker would be a massive blow for the 'Atlas Lions', who are grouped with hosts South Africa, Angola and debutants Cape Verde Islands in the first round.

Although rated one of the strongest national teams in Africa for decades, Morocco have consistently underachieved at the Cup of Nations, with ther lone title coming 37 years ago.

Ghana whipped record seven-time African champions Egypt 3-0 in an Abu Dhabi warm-up match through goals from Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Richard Boakye and captain Asamoah Gyan.

But the happiness of coach Kwesi Appiah on a convincing display was tempered by a first-half injury to midfielder Anthony Annan, forcing him to leave the pitch.

The Black Stars, who came third, second and fourth at the last three tournaments, are expected to top a group including Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger.

Tunisia were involved in a second consecutive 1-1 draw -- this time against Gabon in Abu Dhabi -- afer being held by Cup of Nations minnows Ethiopia in Qatar last Monday.

Saber Khlifa gave the Carthage Eagles an early lead, but Johan Lengoualama levelled and Gabon, who failed to qualify for the 2013 Cup of Nations after co-hosting the previous tournament, had the better chances to win.

Zambia, tiring after an intense warm-up schedule and unhappy at media criticism of poor results, have called off a friendly against Namibia in Nelspruit where they will face Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets) were to face the Brave Warriors at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on January 15 -- six days before kicking off their defence of the African title against Ethiopia.

Zambia host Norway on Saturday in central mining town Ndola in a final warm-up, Namibia still get a crack at a Cup of Nations qualifier by playing Morocco in Johannesburg and South Africa tackle Algeria in Soweto.

Source: AFP