Grant delighted as Ghana cruse into final after chaotic, violence marred tie

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Feb 06, 2021
  • Asamoah Gyan and coach Avram Grant..(Photo:CAF)

Ghana coach Avram Grant is reveling in his team reaching the final of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015.

The Black Stars saw off hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in the semis meeting on Thursday night in Malabo courtesy goals from Jordan Ayew, Mubarak Wakaso and Andre Ayew to set a final date with western neighbours, Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday in Bata.

It is the second time since 2010 that the four-time winners have reached the final after making the last four on their four previous attempts, and Grant is on cloud nine to have played a huge role in the Black Stars reaching the last two.

Grant who was named Ghana coach last November is on course to guide Ghana to break their Africa Cup of Nations trophy hoodoo. The Black Stars have yet to lay their hands on the continental title since 1982.

“It is good to be in the final especially with Ghana. Before the tournament, nobody gave us a chance. “Everyone talked about the other teams. Now we are in the final and we would want to win the cup,” Grant said at the post-match press conference.

Ghana will face old foes Cote d’Ivoire in a repeat of the 1992 final which the Ivorians triumphed after a marathon penalty shootout, 11-10 in what was the first time every player had taken part in the penalty shootout in the final of a major championship.

Talisman Gyan missing 

Jordan Ayew converted a 42nd-minute penalty, Mubarak Wakaso struck a minute into first-half stoppage time and Andre Ayew tapped in on 75 minutes of the semi-final.

Ghana began the match without captain and star striker Asamoah Gyan, who was named among the substitutes having not fully recovered from an abdominal injury.

But the absence of the Black Stars' talisman was hardly noticed as two late first-half goals gave the four-time African champions a 2-0 half-time advantage. Equatorial Guinea, who shocked Tunisia in the quarter-finals, offered stubborn if sometimes disorganised resistance for much of the half.

The gap in class -- Ghana are 81 places higher on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings -- was often obvious with the Black Stars retaining possession while Equatorial Guinea surrendered the ball too cheaply.  

The home side were first to threaten with a quick break leading to a cross from Kike Boula, but teenager Iban Edu slipped inside the box as he prepared to shoot. Ivan Esono rescued the National Thunder soon after at the 15,000-seat Estadio de Malabo, blocking the ball at the expense of a corner as Andre Ayew was set to blast the ball goalwards.

Home goalkeeper Felipe Ovono, one of the finds of this Cup of Nations, darted off his line to block an attempted lob from Andre Ayew after another fluid Ghana attack.

The Black Stars had more rhythm and penetration and it came as no surprise when they took the lead three minutes before half-time.

Kwesi Appiah and Ovono collided as they chased after a delicate pass into the box and the Gabonese referee judged that the goalkeeper had committed a foul and flashed a yellow card.

Up stepped Jordan Ayew -- younger brother of Andre and son of Ghana legend Abedi 'Pele' Ayew -- to calmly slot the ball into the right corner as Ovono moved in the opposite direction.

Ghana doubled the advantage a minute into stoppage-time as the home side were caught cold by a swift counterattack and Wakaso fired into the net from close range.

The third goal came when an Ovono block ran loose to Appiah, whose low cross was side-footed over the line by Andre Ayew from close range.

Crowd trrouble 

However, the game was marred by crowd trouble as play was halted eight minutes from time as disgruntled home fans flung various objects on the pitch and a lengthy break ensued before order was restored and play resumed. Police were forced to fire tear gas to quell the charged Equatogenerian fams,

Sunday's final in Bata will be a repeat of the 1992 final won 11-10 on penalties by Côte d'Ivoire after 120 goalless minutes in Dakar.

That was the Ivorians' lone Cup of Nations title while Ghana have won the African football showpiece four times, although the last triumph came in Tripoli 33 years ago.

Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea, who exceeded expectations by reaching the semi-finals, face Congo DR in Malabo on Saturday in the match for third place.