22 Jan

COTE D’IVOIRE 4 1 1 0 2
GHANA 3 1 0 1 -1
BURKINA FASO 1 0 1 1 -1
TOGO (DSQ) 0 0 0 0 0

With Cote D’Ivoire already qualified and Togo back home after the events that marred the beginning of the tournament, it was win or go home time for the Black Stars and the Stallions. The contenders for the coveted remaining spot come into the game with contrasting spirits. Burkina Faso at a canter, having held the Elephants to a 0 – 0 draw. Ghana desperate to recover, after losing 3 – 1 to the same Elephants, as well as their star player, Essien. It must be said, that as it stands, the onus is on Ghana- a draw would see the Stallions safely through.

The game got off with both teams pressing for the opener. Pitroipa was alive again in the heart of Stallion’s midfield. He busied the defence, winning a few free kicks in the  early stages and kept Kingson on his toes when he got a shot off. At the other end, Ghana’s Gyan started coming to life, showing flashes of brilliance. Most of all when he played a back heel to release Draman, but he wasn’t on Gyan’s wavelength and Burkina Faso easily cleared their lines. Burkina Faso continued applying pressure and controlling the tempo of the game, Essien again was a big miss in the middle for the Black Stars.

The match begun to stutter with both teams guilty of committing nervy fouls. Panandetiguiri wound up most guilty, picking up a yellow for his foul which meant he misses the next game… should the Stallions qualify. The ball was swung in and only half cleared. A second bite at the cherry was offered and Ayew rose above the lead-footed defence to head home. Much against the run of play, the Black Stars shot ahead, taking the lead into the turn around. 1 – 0

The second half came to life with the Stallions at full canter looking for the equaliser. A goal would put Ghana back in the hot seat as they needed a win. With Tall defending as stoutly as he had against Drogba, that would undoubtedly test Ghana’s resolve. The game again descended into start-stop mode, with both sides conceding free kicks and the ref seemed more than willing to give fouls, blowing his whistle on end. Both teams attacked with great pace and intent, with Burkina Faso surprisingly not afraid to go toe-to-toe with Ghana. The Stallions will be proud to have come out on top in many exchanges. Both teams came close to scoring until Tall saw his second yellow and was sent off for elbowing Gyan. A bit harsh if you ask me, but it had been coming. Tall defended well, but a few of his challenges were sloppy. From this point, Ghana took charge and made the extra man tell. Gyan, Inkoom and Draman wasted good opportunities to put the final nail in the Stallion’s coffin.

Burkina Faso will feel aggrieved at not scoring in their 2 games but also a sense of pride having given two favourites a good run for their money. Ghana came good in the end but look an average side without Essien on the pitch. He is the driving force of this team and lends more than his ability to the team.

Final Score: Ghana 1 – 0 Burkina Faso

Player of the Game: I have to choose a losing player again. Pitroipa shone through making a nuisance of himself all afternoon.


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