By David Legge*
Johannesburg (AFP) – Congo Brazzaville coach Claude le Roy accused Ghana of fielding over-age footballers this weekend in a 1-0 Rio Olympic Games qualifying victory.
The famed French handler told an Accra media conference he had coached some of the Ghanaians and they did not meet the competition requirement of being born on or after January 1 1993.
“This is not fair,” barked Le Roy. “Congo play by the rules and Ghana do not.
“I coached some of these Ghanaians seven years ago for an African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Niger.
“They are not under-23 footballers,” insisted the 67-year-old coach who is seeking a first appearance at the Olympic Games next year in Brazil.
Neither Ghana coach Malik Jabir nor officials immediately responded to the allegations.
Le Roy ranks among the most successful foreign coaches to have worked in Africa, winning gold, silver and bronze Africa Cup of Nations medals.
He also guided Cameroon at the 1998 World Cup, leaving the Olympics as his main unfulfilled goal entering the twilight of a near-50-year football career.
Ghana won the first leg of a second-round tie through a goal just before half-time by Enoch Ebo.
The winger from English third-tier strugglers Port Vale latched on to a Sadiq Alhassan pass and struck the ball wide of goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi.
Congo had a late second-half let-off when Black Meteors substitute Dauda Mohammed rattled the woodwork at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Ghana have competed at the Olympics six times and became the first football medalists from Africa by coming third at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The countries clash again next weekend in Congo and the overall winners secure a third-round date with Nigeria.
Uganda look set to advance after winning 2-1 in Rwanda through goals from Faruku Miya and substitute Muzamiru Mutyaba.
Miya converted an early free-kick and Dominique Nshuti levelled just past the hour before Mutyaba punished sloppy defending at Stade Amahoro in Kigali.
Zambia are also well placed to progress having held Botswana 1-1 in Lobatse south of Gaborone.
Jackson Chirwa gave the visitors an early lead that was cancelled by Unotshaba Mbaiwa midway through the second half.
Botswana fired coach Keitumetse Paul — mastermind of a shock first-round win over Kenya — 48 hours before facing Zambia after he complained about losing five players to the senior national squad.
Tunisia left it late to edge Sudan 1-0 at Stade Olympique in Rades with Slimen Kchok scoring a minute from time.
And Adama Niane converted an 87th-minute penalty to salvage a 1-1 for Mali away to Mauritania.
After three qualifying rounds, seven survivors join Senegal in a November 28-December 12 tournament and the top three finishers will represent Africa in Rio.