30th March, 2013
Ghana missed out on a fourth African U-20 Championship trophy after a 5-4 penalties defeat to Egypt at the Ahmed Zabana Stadium in Oran, Algeria on Saturday.
The match was a repeat of their opening Group A match, as the two teams were tied 1-1 after extra time with both goals being scored in the first half.
Just after four minutes, the Young Pharaohs shot ahead from the spot after dangerman Abdul Monem Abdul Hamid Mahmoud was fouled inside the box. Defender Richmond Nketiah stretched his leg with a late tackle and Mahmoud dropped like a stone.
Experienced referee Mehdi Abdi Samba pointed to the 12 yard spot and skilful Saleh Ouda Gomaa sent goalkeeper Eric Ofori Antwi the wrong way.
Ghana did not throw their hands in despair but pushed for the equaliser quickly and in one of their attacking moves, Moses Odjer was fouled by Egyptian Ahmed Samir. Odjer was first to the ball with his head resulting in the second penalty of the game.
Left-back Jeremiah Arkoful picked the ball and with aplomb beat goalkeeper Mossad Awad.
The Black Satellites settled down afterwards and took the game to the Egyptians.
After half and hour, Assifuah won a free-kick close to the edge of the box and Akorful again curled one in which smashed the cross bar.
Five minutes, Rabiea Yassin’s boys turned on the engine and Abdul Monem was the architect but his cross from the right was headed wide by Omar Bassam.
Diminutive Clifford Aboagye, unmarked inside the box, could not direct a corner from Nketiah.
After half-time, Ghana had free-kick just outside the penalty arc after Hossam Mohammed had handled the ball.
Egypt responded with a threatening move as Bassam fired a half volley after lifting the ball well.
In the 65th minute, Akorful’s curling free-kick was just a few metres wide with goalkeeper Mossad Awad beaten.
Egypt were dangerous on the left and two crosses were intercepted by backpedaling Akorful for goalkeeper to pick up.
Aboagye was the star man as he won free-kicks with his trickery and skills but he was substituted early inside the first half of extra-time.
Ghana lost the services of striker Assifuah who walked off injured.
The game headed to penalties and for the second time Ghana were not lucky. The teams were tied at 4-4 after the first five spot kicks.
First captain of Egypt Rabia sent his kick wide and Joseph Attamah’s effort was saved by goalkeeper Mossad Awad who was named Man-of-the-Match.
In the sudden death, substitute Michael Anaba hit his kick against the woodwork and Mohammed Reda converted his for Egypt’s fourth African U-20 title.
The loss denied Ghana a fourth title in the U-20 Championship as it also blanked coach Sellas Tetteh the joy on entering the record books as the first Ghana trainer to win two titles at the Championship.
Despite the loss, Ghana, along with Nigeria and Mali, will have a World Cup finals to look forward to in Turkey in June this year.