LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: André Ayew follows in his father’s footstep (Abedi Ayew) by opening the scoring.
GHANA secured a narrow 1-0 win against Burkina Faso to progress to the knockout stages of the ANC (African Nations Cup).
A 30th minute goal from André Ayew was enough to book the Black Stars their Quarter-Final place, however, the result couldn’t mask a poor performance that should have seen the Stallions playing Angola on Sunday.
Ghana went into the match knowing only a win would suffice and the Black Stars began the game briskly. Nine minutes in, striker Matthew Amoah drove forward before unleashing a powerful shot which disappointingly sailed over the bar. That effort proved to be a rarity though as the Burkinabe’s defence kept the Ghanaian threat suppressed.
The energetic pace of the opening 15 minutes was soon snuffed out as well, the Stallions deciding ‘might was right’ as they embarked on a series of lunging challenges. Ayew in particular, received a brutal two footed hack from defender Saidou Panandetiguiri early on.
Their ‘bully boy’ tactics hit a hitch though after half-an-hour. Samuel Inkoom launched a looping cross into the heart of the Stallions penalty area, which dropped kindly for an unmarked Ayew to confidently head home into the bottom left-hand corner.
That goal forced Burkino Faso to come out and play some football, and they rose to the challenge almost immediately. Charles Kaboré and Florent Rouamba began to dominate the midfield battle but with star striker Moumouni Dagano warming the bench, the Stallions lacked a cutting edge to threaten Ghana’s back line. The best they could muster was a 40-yard free kick on 33 minutes which evaded the Ghanaian defence, but frustratingly, striker Jonathan Pitroipa failed to connect when the opportunity presented itself.
This waste of possession almost proved dear on the stroke of halftime. Amoah had the chance to double the lead but his shot veered wide of the left hand post. Kwadwo Asamoah then squandered his turn to ease the pressure shortly after the break, getting the ball stuck between his feet when the shot was begging.
STALEMATE: Neither Ghana nor Burkina Faso could take a firm grip of the game.
Lee Addy and Eric Addo stood firm in defence for Ghana as the Stallions poured forward searching for the equaliser. On 60 minutes, Yssouf Koné stretched for a deliciously deceiving cross, but his toe was in inch short of making the crucial contact. If that left the Burkinabe’s frustrated, the sending off of defender Mamdou Tall left them incensed. The 6’1” centre-back received his marching orders for elbowing Asamoah Gyan in the face; however replays showed there was little to no contact with the Ghanaian.
As Burkina Faso limped like a wounded stallion up-front, the Black Stars pressed on to make their advantage count. Haminu Dramani broke twice in two minutes but sliced his shot wide on both occasions. Dominic Adiyiah was introduced to spice things up, but the Milan youngster couldn’t find a chance to make a name for himself.
With time seeping away, Burkina Faso brought on Dagano in a bid to find the crucial goal. The prolific talisman scored 12 goals in qualification but forgot to put on his shooting boots before taking to the pitch. The forward committed numerous fouls, strayed offside on several occasions and petulantly argued with the officials over every decision.
Seconds from the end, Burkina Faso had a chance to snatch the point that their tireless midfield deserved. Dagano burst into the box as a low right footed ball was drilled in, however Ghana ‘keeper Richard Kingson was first to the ball, smothering it comfortably.
JUMPING FOR JOY: Ghana players celebrate progression to the Quater-Finals.
At the final whistle, the Ghana players, supporters and coaches all let out a huge sigh of relief. The Black Stars had performed well below their expected level but had gratefully, perhaps luckily, held out for the three points. The shocked Burkina Faso team collapsed on the pitch, their heads in their hands, unable to fathom how their vastly superior possession had not equated to a goal.
In his post-match press conference, Ghana Coach Milovan Rajevac summed up a worrying performace in a nutshell. He said: “It was a competitive match, Burkina Faso played more offensively. They were capable of scoring, especially from set pieces. They attacked more which gave us the chance to counter but we lacked concentration in our finishing.”
PAUSE FOR THOUGHT: Ghanaian supporters will be left wondering whether they have the quality to beat Angola.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM CABINDA