African Nations Championship - The Black Stars of Ghana reached their second African Nations Championship (CHAN) final after a 4-1 penalty shoot-out win over fellow West Africans, Nigeria, during an absorbing semi-final match played on Wednesday at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
The match had ended goalless and Ghana played for over 50 minutes with 10 men after Kwabena Adusei was given the marching orders but showed character to knock out the Super Eagles, according to the website of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Ghana reached and lost the first CHAN final in 2009 to DR Congo but now the coach Maxwell Konadu’s side has the chance to try and go one better and win the Trophy when they play Libya in the final on Saturday in Cape Town.
Libya had earlier reached the final after beating Zimbabwe 5-4 on penalties as the match ended 0-0 after extra-time. Libya keeper Mohamed Abdaula was the hero for his side, saving Zimbabwe's final penalty before converting a spot kick of his own in the shootout, which saw 16 penalties taken.
Ghana were first to settle down into a pattern with good movement of the ball in the midfield. Striker Yayaha Mohamed was making runs in front of the Nigerian back line and combining with Abraham Attonbrah, but none of their efforts really threatened Chigozie Agbim in goal for the Super Eagles.
Despite this domination it was Abubakar Ibrahim of Nigeria who came close to opening the scoring when his overhead kick hit the side netting.
Ibrahim again went close in the 26th minute with a rasping shot from outside the box that came off the cross bar with Black Stars goalkeeper Stephen Adams a beaten man. Before half time the match eased into an even contest but a few tackles saw the flash of the yellow card to both sides.
Adusei got his second yellow for a poor challenge on Abubakar Ibrahim and Ghana were forced to re-organise.
There were few clear-cut chances for both sides with both defences holding well as the two sides cancelled each other out.
Samuel Ainooson was at the heart of the solid work done by the Ghanaian defence and his effort earned him man of the match award.
It was goalkeeper Adams whose last minute save in extra time from an Ugonna Uzochukwu header that kept Ghana alive. Adams dived down to push the goal-bound header over the bar and before the corner kick could be taken it was time for penalties.
Adams saved Kwambe Solomon’s spot kick, while Uzochukwu sent his effort over the cross bar.
Ghana converted all four kicks to spark celebrations among the 13,000 crowd in attendance at Free State Stadium.
Nigeria will now play Zimbabwe for the bronze medal also on Saturday at 1500 GMT before Ghana vs Libya final at 1800 GMT.