Ghana end Angola's Cup party

2010-01-24 21:21
Asamoah Gyan (AFP)

Luanda - Ghana destroyed Angola's Africa Cup of Nations dream with a 1-0 quarter-final win over the hosts here on Sunday to keep them on course for a fifth title.

Asamoah Gyan's first half goal put the Black Stars into the semi-finals where they will face the winner of Monday's match in Lubango between Zambia and Nigeria.

As a severely depleted Ghana side marched on in search of their first continental crown in 28 years Angola rued not putting away a number of clear cut chances, not least Manucho's shot over the woodwork approaching the interval.

For coach Manuel Jose the game went ahead in the aftermath of personal tragedy a few hours before kick-off after his father, who was in his nineties, died.

"I have to fly back to Portugal now to attend the funeral of my father who has died," he told a subdued post-match press conference.

Before leaving the 11 November Stadium to return home Jose paid tribute to his players.

"They leave this competition with their heads held high," Jose said.

"I am proud to be their coach, they did everything they could, but Ghana scored with their first chance. The only thing we were missing was a goal."

Ghana coach Milovan Rajevic said that despite the early strike it had been a hard task defending such a slim lead.

"Fortunately we scored early, then tried to defend it and counter-attack. It was hard, but we did it, now we'll digest the win and think about the semi-final tomorrow (Monday)," he said.

Jose welcomed back defender Stelvio from suspension and three-goal hero Flavio from injury to join Manucho up front.

Ghana, missing a raft of star players including Michael Essien, made one alteration from their last run out, Mathew Amoah making way for Qatar-based midfielder Opoku Agyemang.

A minute's silence for both Jose's father and the victims of the Haiti earthquake preceded this first ever competitive meeting between the two west African states.

On 16 minutes the 50,000 largely partisan crowd fell silent again as Udinese's Kwadwo Asamoah conjured up a neat pass to release Gyan down the right, the Rennes striker racing by Angola skipper Kali to shoot past keeper Carlos Fernandes.

Only a fine goalline save from Kingson denied Angola an equaliser on the half hour.

The danger arose when Flavio zipped down the right, crossing for Manucho to head home with the Wigan stopper blocking the ball with his body.

Gyan had a second goal disallowed on 33 minutes when Algerian referee Mohammed Benouza hauled him up for offside.

The Flavio-Manucho show should have produced a goal a minute from the break, but Kingson's reflex save from close range and Manucho's poor miscue over the woodwork saved Ghana.

Jose went into the interval scratching his head and fans listened dubiously as from the stadium speakers the Black Eyed Peas' claimed that 'tonight was going to be a good night'.

Angola midfielder Job got a warm welcome when he came on for Stelvio before the hour and his cross from the right shortly after his entrance almost led to the leveller but Manucho's header from in front of goal went high.

Angola had virtually all the possession in the second half and were putting together some slick attacking moves down both flanks yet Ghana's impressive backline held firm time and time again.

Deep in injury time Kali had only Kingson to beat but he failed to make proper contact and the loose ball, slithering towards goal, was cleared by Hoffenheim defender Isaac Vorsah.


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