THE Black Stars of Ghana reached their second African Nations Championship final after a 4-1 penalty shoot-out win over fellow West Africans, Nigeria during an absorbing semi-final match played last night at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. The match had ended goalless and Ghana played for over 50 minutes with ten men after Kwabena Adusei but showed character to knock-out the Super Eagles.
Ghana reached and lost the first CHAN final in 2009 to DR Congo but now the coach Maxwell Konadu’s side has chance to try and go one better and win the Trophy when they play Libya in the final on Saturday 1st February in Cape Town.
Libya had earlier reached the final of the African Nations Championship after beating Zimbabwe 5-4 on penalties as the match ended 0-0 after extra-time. Libya keeper Mohamed Abdaula was the hero for his side, saving Zimbabwe’s final penalty before converting a spot kick of his own in the shootout, which saw 16 penalties taken.
Ghana were first to settle down into a pattern with good movement of the ball in the midfield. Striker Yayaha Mohamed was making runs in-front of the Nigerian back line and combining with Abraham Attonbrah but none of their efforts really threatened Chigozie Agbim in goal for the Super Eagles.
Despite this domination it was Abubakar Ibrahim of Nigeria who came close to opening the scoring when his overhead kick hit the side netting. Ibrahim went even close on 26th minute with a rasping shot from outside the box that came off the cross bar with Black Stars goal-minder Stephen Adams a beaten man. Before half time the match eased into an even contest but a few tackles saw the flash of the yellow card to both sides.
Adusei got his second yellow for a poor challenge on Abubakar Ibrahim and Ghana were forced to re-organise. There were few clear cut chances for both sides with both defences holding well as the two sides cancelled each other .Samuel Ainooson was at the heart of the solid work done by Ghanaian defence and his effort earned him man of the match award. It was goalkeeper Adams whose last minute save in extra time from an Ugonna Uzochukwu header that kept Ghana alive. Adams dived down to push the goal-bound header over the bar and before the corner kick could be taken it was time for penalties.
Adams saved Kwambe Solomon’s spot kick, while Uzochukwu sent his effort over the cross bar. Ghana converted all four kicks to spark celebrations among the 13 000 crowd in attendance at Free State Stadium. Nigeria will now play Zimbabwe for the bronze medal also on Saturday 1st February at 17h00 before Ghana vs Libya final.–www.cafonline.com