The Black Stars of Ghana yesterday, Thursday, January 29, 2010 displayed an acrobatic performance in their semi-final clash against their West African rivals Nigeria to be the first country to make it to the Orange Nations Cup final in Angola.
By the victory, the Ghanaians who have along the journey been inspired by their undaunted leader, John Evans Atta Mills, have shot dead the dreams of their sub-regional archrivals whose leader Umaru Yar’Adua, another resilient leader who is at the moment convalescing in Saudi Arabia form a protracted illness.
The Eagles who blew away begging chances were wasteful throughout the entire duration of artistry soccer and the only opportunity that created the difference was Kwadwo Asamoah’s corner kick which was beautifully connected into the net by Gyan in the 21st minute and that was enough to hand the Ghanaians a place at the finals.
The Stars who had their midfield general, Anthony Annan, return into the squad after a protracted injury had a good start, and managed the Nigerians from constructing their dangerous runs upfront. The Stars fielded in the lineup almost the same squad that conquered the Angolans, with only Annan making his debut and, as the game wore on, three players; Dramani, Annan and Inkoom were cautioned with the yellow card in the 24th, 54th and 78th respectively.
The game reached a fever pitch with a lot of physical play, forcing Coach Milovan to make early substitution by introducing Haminu Dramani for Opoku Agyemang who could not continue with play in the 28th minute.
The Eagles, lacking the cutting edge, could not organise to take their chances but none was as unpardonable as what happened on the 24th minute, when Osaze Odemwingie gave his striking pair, Obafemi Martins, a through pass with the only goalkeeper to beat; he shot the ball straight into the waiting hands of Richard Kingson of Ghana.
Russia-based Odemwingie profited from Nigeria’s long surging balls and took charge of the game in the middle of the first half, turning round his marker, Lee Addy, at the edge of the Stars’ box and unleashing a fierce right-footed shot that Ghana’s goalkeeper Richard Kingson got a touch on to prevent the ball from entering the net.
They should have equalized in the 27th minute but Obafemi Martins blazed over from barely six yards after the ball fell kindly to him with the pass coming from Odemwingie who caught the Ghanaian defence sleeping.
But the Stars who were third in the last edition of the Nations Cup, on home soil, gradually fought their way back into the game and gave the Eagles a big scare when Kwadwo Asamoah beat two defenders with a drop of the shoulder and shot narrowly wide from just outside the box.
The Nigerians came close to equalizing when Mikel Obi had the opportunity to punish his opponents, capitalizing on Lee Addy’s defensive error but Isaac Vorsah’s timely intervention saved the day for the Ghanaians when he superbly cleared the ball from the danger line just after 68th minute of play.
The lead gave the Ghanaians enormous confidence and they easily held off the struggling Eagles, effortlessly keeping Odemwingie, Obi, and Martins out of the game and troubling the fragile Nigerian defence through the pace and guile of Opoku Agyemang.
A bemused coach Shaibu Amodu brought on Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Obina Nsofor for the desperately disappointing Odemwingie and Ayila but the changes made little difference. They could not match the young Ghanaian players, having shown great resilience in the game. But this victory, Ghana has advanced to the grand finale and will meet Egypt in the finals on Sunday.
Source: The Heritage/Ghana
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