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Page last updated at 00:50 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 01:50 UK

Group Five goes down to the wire

Michael Essien
Michael Essien suffered a serious injury in Tripoli

Ghana and Libya face a nerve-shredding end in Group Five of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers after Gabon beat Lesotho 3-0 on Sunday to join the photo-finish.

Gabon gave their chances of qualification a shot in the arm after the result in Bloemfontein took them to second place, three points behind leaders Libya.

2006 World Cup finalists Ghana are also on nine points but the Panthers have a better goal difference.

Libya travel to Gabon for the final game next month while Ghana host Lesotho, meaning all the top three teams are in a with chance of qualifying.

Gabon hauled themselves back into contention on Sunday with goals from Bruno Ecuele, Roguy Neye and Bruno Mbanagoye.

Libya took control of the group after pulling off a 1-0 win over Ghana in Tripoli on Friday.

The Greens won the game with a well-worked goal from experienced striker Ahmed Saad after defender Harrison Afful hesitated.

Midfielder Nader Abdussalah played in Osman with a clever pass which Afful failed to clear and the 30-year-old slotted the ball into the net from an acute angle with only four minutes remaining.

The win took Libya to the top of the group with 12 points, leaving the Black Stars third on nine points.

Ghana had numerous scoring chances in the first half but Junior Agogo and Sulley Muntari fluffed the opportunities after key midfielder Michael Essien was taken off injured.

The Chelsea player was substituted with what looked like a serious injury midway through the first-half after being cynically hacked down.

He was replaced by captain Stephen Appiah, who was making his first appearance in a competitive match after a nine-month injury-induced absence.

The former Fenerbahce midfielder didn't look rusty as Agogo and Muntari failed to utilise his inch-perfect passes.

Ghana must beat Lesotho at home in their final match in October if they are to stand any chance of advancing to the second phase of the qualifiers.

A draw for Libya in Gabon in October will see them topping the group.

The 12 group winners and the best eight runners-up advance to the final qualifying phase where they will be split into five groups with the winners joining hosts South Africa at the first World Cup to be staged by Africa.

see also
Ghana ease past Libya
01 Jun 08 |  African
Ghana, Libya survive late scares
08 Jun 08 |  African
Black Stars downed but Libya win
15 Jun 08 |  African
Ghana reclaim top spot in Gp 5
21 Jun 08 |  African
Gabon beat Lesotho in qualifier
28 Jun 08 |  African
2010 World Cup Qualifiers
27 Mar 08 |  African

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