Cape Town - Libya claimed the 2014 African Nations Championship title after defeating Ghana on a penalty shootout in the tournament final at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening.
The North Africans’ first piece of continental silverware arrived courtesy of a 4-3 shootout win over the Black Stars after the match had ended goalless after extra time. It was the third successive match Libya won by a shootout, after ousting Gabon and Zimbabwe in the same manner in the quarter- and semifinals respectively.
The first half saw little in the way of goalmouth action, with the teams effectively cancelling each other out. Ghana had the edge in terms of pace and athleticism, but Libya were well organised and looked dangerous on the counter attack.
The Black Stars created their best chance of the first half as early as the second minute, with striker Siedu Bansey arriving late in the box to meet a left-wing cross and power a header on target, but goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush made a good diving save.
Four minutes later the Mediterranean Knights threatened to open the scoring as Elmutasem Abushnaf was put free on goal, but Ghana ‘keeper Stephen Adams came quickly off his line to win the ball cleanly at the striker’s feet.
Those two early chances were the highlights of an otherwise dull first 45 minutes that ended with the teams deadlocked at 0-0.
Just past the hour mark Ghana had only the second effort on target in the match, but Aseidu Attorbrah’s long range effort was no real test for Nashnush in the North African side’s goal.
On 79 minutes Libya appealed for a penalty after Ghana defender Abeiku Ainooson bravely blocked a shot that looked destined for the back of the net, but the effort hit his chest and was nowhere near a hand-ball.
It was no surprise to see the match end goalless after the regulation 90 and head into an extra half hour. In the early minutes of extra time Libyan striker Abushnaf spurned a great chance to put his side in front, heading wide of goal after meeting a peach of a cross from Elmehdi El Houni on the left wing.
The second half of extra time opened with Ghana substitute Abdul Mohammed dragging an effort just wide of goal, while his Libyan counterpart Abdelsalam Omar was gifted the best chance of the match and powered a diving header on target, only for Adams to come up with a superb point-blank save to keep the score line blank.
The penalty shootout saw Ghana miss their first two kicks to great saves by Nashnush, but Adams soon saved two himself to keep the West Africans in the hunt. However when Tijani Joshua missed the final kick, it saw the Mediterranean Knights win 4-3.
After extra time, Libya win 4-3 on penalties
Penalty sequence: (Libya kick first) Fasial Ali scores 1-0, Michael Akuffo misses (saved) 1-0; Muataz Fadel scores 2-0, Abeiku Ainooson misses (saved) 2-0; Ahmed Almaghasi scores 3-0, Aseidu Attorbrah scores 3-1; Mohamed Elgadi misses (saved) 3-1, Godfred Saka scores 3-2; Abdelsalam Omar misses (saved) 3-2, Jackson Owusu scores 3-3; Ahmed El Trbi scores 4-3, Tijani Joshua misses 4-3.
Libya: Mohamed Nashnush, Ahmed Almaghasi, Ali Salama, Ahmed Alwani, Ahmed El Trbi, Almoatasembellah Mohamed, Elmehdi El Houni, Faisal Ali, Mohamed Elgadi, Elmutasem Abushnaf (Muataz Fadel 116’), Mohamed Ghanudi (Abdelsalam Omar 64’)
Ghana: Stephen Adams, Godfred Saka, Nuru Sulley, Abeiku Ainooson, Tijani Joshua, Anobaah Theophilus (Abdul Mohammed 99’), Aseidu Attorbrah, Jordan Opoku (Jackson Owusu 119’), Michael Akuffo, Siedu Bansey, Sulley Mohammed (Yahaya Mohammed 63’)
Libya 0 Ghana 0 aet (Libya win 4-3 on penalties)
Third place play-off
Nigeria 1 (Christian Chinonso Obiozor 85) Zimbabwe 0