Black night for Ghana

2008-02-08 00:00

HOST nation Ghana’s hearts were broken as Cameroon out-muscled the Black Stars 1-0 in the African Nations Cup semi-final at Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra last night.

The defeat devastated a home crowd, and home nation, caught up in the euphoria of Ghana’s unbeaten run to the quarter-finals.

Cameroon, who appeared a spent force after their opening 4-2 defeat against Egypt, snuffed out the challenge of the Black Stars with some physical football. Even more remarkable about Cameroon’s victory was that they achieved it with star player, out-of-form Barcelona forward, Samuel Eto’o largely anonymous.

For Ghana, the suspension of central defender John Mensah, red-carded in the 2-1 quarter-final victory over Nigeria, proved crucial. Coach Claude Le Roy had some tough decisions to make in the absence of the heart and soul of his defence.

The Frenchman opted to bring Michael Essien into the back four and pull Sulley Muntari in from left midfield to playmaker, but this proved ineffective and several times during the match Le Roy tried, unsuccessfully, to reshuffle his team.

In the second half the hosts appeared to be gaining the advantage, but Alain Nkong scored against the run of play for Cameroon in the 71st minute, then the Lions shut the game down.

Ghana created only two half-chances in the first half, the first coming midway through when Andre Ayew cut in from the left, where he had come in for Muntari, but shot weakly for Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to make the save.

On either side of this Cameroon had two good chances of their own, the first when Eric Addo’s missed clearance gifted Steven Mbia the ball on the edge of the area, and the Cameroon playmaker shot just too high. In the 39th minute, Geremi’s 30 metre free-kick was not picked up by Ghana ‘keeper Richard Kingson and skimmed the crossbar.

Ghana tried to take control after the break. First a shuffle by Le Roy, bringing Ayew into the middle as a shadow striker behind Junior Agogo, then the substitution of the wayward Quincy Owusu-Abeyie by Laryea Kingston, increased the home team’s creativity up-front.

Ayew’s shot cannoned off the head of Andre Amougou, but moments later Cameroon took the lead against the run of play. Substitute Nkong, on for the ineffective Joseph-Desire Job, was gifted acres of space to run through and sidefoot past Kingson.

Amougo was red-carded after scuffling with Kingston, but Cameroon held out for victory.

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