Kewell off as Australia hold Ghana to draw

Australian forward Harry Kewell was controversially sent off midway through the first half but Australia managed to cling on to a 1-1 draw with Ghana on Saturday in a result that put the Africans top of Group D.

In an open and entertaining game, the Australians led as early as the 11th minute when Brett Holman profited from an error by Ghanaian keeper Richard Kingson who spilled a shot from Mark Bresciano, allowing Holman to net the rebound.

But 13 minutes later Australia were reduced to 10-men for the second successive game as Kewell was sent off for handling the ball on the line.

The Australians vehemently protested that the ball had struck Kewell’s upper arm and that it was not deliberate.

Asamoah Gyan, who scored the winner in Ghana’s first group game against Serbia, converted his second penalty in two games with a low right foot shot.

Ghana then went in search of a winner but despite creating a host of chances they were left frustrated as Australia defended bravely and went close themselves to stealing an unlikely win when substitute Joshua Kennedy failed to score with a smothered close-range shot after 72 minutes.

Australia’s Kewell told reporters after the game that the decision to send him off was harsh.

“Everyone that’s seen it is saying ‘OK, fair enough, it’s a penalty’. But was it deliberate? Of course not, I’ve never been that way inclined,” he said.

His dismissal left the team to battle with just 10 men for the second consecutive game. Australian midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off in their first group game against Germany and missed the Ghana match.

“I think we showed our true spirits then [after the sending off].
It would just be nice if we could play a game with 11 men. It’s a shame that it’s come down to what it’s come down to, but again that’s football, you just take it on the chin and move on,” Kewell said.

Ghana lead the group with four points from two games and need at least a draw in their final fixture against Germany at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday to guarantee qualification for the second stage.

Australia, who have just one point after two games, will need to defeat Serbia in Nelspruit on Wednesday to stand any chance of qualifying for the second stage. - Reuters