AFCON 2017: CAMEROON BEAT GHANA TO REACH FINAL
February 03, 2017 | Uhuruspirit
Cameroon celebrate as they reached the 2017 AFCON final
Ghana’s 35-year wait for a Cup of Nations goes on. Always thereabouts, never quite there, this campaign was ended by a moment of madness from goalkeeper Brimah Razak, an inability to create without their talismanic captain Asamoah Gyan, and a sucker punch with the final kick of the game.
The decisive goal was a sickening one for the Black Stars to concede. Razak charged out to try and claim Benjamin Moukandjo’s free kick, but John Boye headed it half-away leaving his keeper stranded.
The ball broke to centre-back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui who kept his nerve and placed it into the top corner.
Ghana, woeful in the first half, had just been starting to take control, but conceding seemed to knock the stuffing out of them, even with the introduction of half-fit Gyan for the final 15 minutes.
In truth, however, Avram Grant’s side didn’t deserve to make the final. They have been disjointed in this tournament, able to produce some brilliant football at times but never capable of putting together a full 90 minutes.
Cameroon, on the other hand, have been resilient and tough to beat throughout, and for a side with few stand-out stars have produced some memorable moments, not least the breakaway strike that allowed Christian Bassogog to seal the result.
Having reached the semi-final by simply smothering a more technically adept Senegal side, you could be forgiven for thinking they might do the same against a Ghana side in their sixth consecutive Cup of Nations semi-final, and boasting all of the big names on show.
But instead, the Indomitable Lions came out and played by far the better football. Moukandjo, operating from the left rather than his usual No 10 role, was influential throughout, while Bassogog caused all sorts of problems for Frank Acheampong on the other flank, and deserved his late goal.
The Indomitable Lions almost took the lead after just eight minutes, when Adolphe Teikeu saw his header cleared off the line by a combination of goalkeeper Brimah Razak and Harrison Afful, and they forced several other good openings in the early exchanges.
Robert Ndip Tambe had probably the best of those chances, but fired too close to Razak when he found himself unmarked from a corner, while Bassogog burst into the box to get on the end of a delightful pass, only to be thwarted by a thunderous Wakaso tackle.
Ghana, as in their quarter-final against DR Congo, were desperately poor in the first 45 minutes and though they improved after the break it never looked like being enough.
Without Gyan their attack lacks spark, and with three functional, rather than creative midfielders in Mubarak Wakaso, Afriyie Acquah and Thomas Partey, they failed to support Jordan Ayew up front.
The first 35 minutes produced nothing better than a 45-yard shot from Wakaso that could most kindly be described as optimistic, but the younger Ayew brother then missed the best chance of the game, firing across the face of goal from a tight angle having but through on goal.
Andre Ayew, for his part, was unable to get into the game from the left wing, spending more of his time tracking back to cope with Bassogog and the overlapping Collins Fai than he did getting the Black Stars moving forward themselves.
On the other wing Christian Atsu, arguably Ghana’s brightest player at the tournament so far, took some time to get going in his battle with the excellent Ambroise Oyongo, but did cause the Cameroonian full-back problems with his direct running.
Wakaso had a dangerous free kick pushed away by Fabrice Ondoa, and any of three Ghanaians might have turned in a corner that was not dealt with just a few minutes later, but for the most part the penalty hero of the quarter-final was left untested.
Even a late onslaught, which brought plenty of pressure, failed to provide too many shots, and left Bassogog to round off the win on the break in stoppage time.
The light of the Black Stars goes out for another two years, while Cameroon will take on Egypt in the final.
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