ASAMOAH Gyan staked his claim for the ANC (African Nations Cup) Golden Boot as his third goal of the tournament saw Ghana grind-out a superb 1-0 win against Nigeria. Gyan’s first-half strike proved to be enough as the Black Stars secured a historic place in the final, their first in 18 years.
Before the match, Ghana Coach Milovan Rajevac stated that ‘pretty football’ was of little importance, telling his players: “we’re not going to play beautiful football, we’re going to play for a result.” His Black Star’s side took this message to heart as they spent the majority of the 90 minutes, fighting a valiant rear guard battle against a belligerent Nigeria.
Obafemi Martins started in place of Yakubu for Nigeria, and the Wolfsburg striker almost made an immediate impact. Martins darted into the box to receive a delightful chipped through ball but his outstretched leg was an inch short of contact. Haruna Kaita then tried the same attack minutes later but his lob was intercepted by defender Isaac Vorsah as Martins eyed up the volley.
With Nigeria making all the early running, the Black Stars followed in their recent trend by hitting the opposition with a cunning sucker punch. On 21 minutes, Kwadwo Asamoah struck a sublime corner to the near post as Gyan snuck in unmarked to meet the ball, heading it home to give Ghana an unexpected lead. Only minutes later, Gyan, had Nigeria ‘keeper Vincent Enyeama rapidly backpedalling but his instinctive 25-yard chip skimmed just over the crossbar.
MAN IN FORM: Asamoah Gyan celebrates another goal in the 2010 ANC.
The Super Eagles upped the tempo after losing the lead but their superior possession only created one further first half chance. On 39 minutes, Peter Odemwingie saw his bullet shot land straight at the feet of Martins, who eight-yards out, sent his effort straight at Ghana shot-stopper Richard Kingson.
The second half showed no rest bite for the Black Stars as Nigeria pushed on for a deserved equaliser. The Super Eagles were having success with the over-the-top pass and Martins was put through again soon after. John Obi Mikel’s through ball put Martins in the clear, but the striker only poked the shot towards Kingson’s encroaching chest.
EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK!: Nigeria resort to spectacular over-head kicks in search of a goal.
Yakubu was brought on to try and make the breakthrough, but he only managed to ‘knee’ a shot wide from five-yards out. Ghana couldn’t find the opposition half with a map and sat-nav, yet they mustered the best chance of the game. André Ayew broke free leaving Nigeria two-against-one, but with Matthew Amoah alone in the box, Ayew lumped a ball straight at ‘keeper Enyeama.
After four minutes of nerve shredding injury time, the referee ended the match, prompting the Ghana players to collapse to their feet in celebration. The Nigerian’s had given everything they had but still couldn’t find a way through. Ghana now know that they’ll have to give the performance of a lifetime to halt free-scoring Egypt, but a buoyant young team will be desperate to secure their nation’s first ANC trophy in almost 30 years.
DREAM COME TRUE: Ghana players storm the pitch whilst Asamoah Gyan collapses in disbelief as Ghana, against all odds, reach the ANC Final.