Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah told his stars to forget the 6-1 FIFA World Cup™ play-off win over Egypt in Kumasi.
Captain Asamoah Gyan scored twice, Majeed Waris, Sulley Muntari and Christian Atsu once and Egypt skipper Wael Gomaa put through his own net in a stunning outcome. The 'Black Stars' were favourites to win the first leg, but neither Appiah nor a team lacking five first choices could have dreamt of such a huge winning margin at a near-full 50,000-capacity Baba Yara Stadium.
"We must prepare well for the return match and forget we have a five-goal advantage," Appiah said, looking to the 19 November second leg. "My team dare not underestimate Egypt and their strengths after this result."
The comments were typical of Appiah, the quiet, 53-year-old former assistant coach of the national team. "We were much quicker and the boys played very well tactically. I knew that if my players had a good day, Egypt would have no chance of containing them," he added.
Ghana exceeded expectations by having a great day. They fluffed two chances within 100 seconds of the kick-off before Gyan scored on five minutes. And when a successful Mohamed Abou Trika penalty close to half-time left Egypt trailing only 2-1, the Black Stars response was swift and decisive.
[We must] forget we have a five-goal advantage. My team dare not underestimate Egypt and their strengths after this result.
Muntari floated a free-kick into the goalmouth and Waris nodded home as three Ghanaians rose challenged by just one visiting defender. Ghana could have scored more with Waris missing a second-half sitter and substitute goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawy making one superb save.
The defeat may well bring back bad memories for coach Bob Bradley, who was in charge of the USA team eliminated by them at South Africa 2010. "The dream of going to the World Cup is what kept our team united for the past two years. Now we have seen that dream become nearly impossible," he admitted.
"I say 'nearly impossible' because the situation that we have put ourselves in is a very difficult one. We know this and we feel this. Ghana is a proud football nation. The talent of the players and the emotions of the supporters came through in Kumasi for them and they can be proud."
Egypt were the lone country to reach the play-offs with a perfect record, but Ghana presented a greater challenge to second-round rivals Guinea, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Ghana, Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria qualified for the 2010 World Cup, and the same five countries are poised to reach Brazil.
Nigeria won 2-1 in Ethiopia last weekend and appear certainties while the away form of Côte d'Ivoire suggests a 3-1 advantage over Senegal can be retained, if not increased. A 0-0 draw in Tunisia gives Cameroon a slight edge and a suspect Burkina Faso rearguard may not be able to defend a 3-2 lead when they travel to Algeria.