Stars fall to the Elephants
The Black Stars of Ghana fell at the foot of the Elephants in their opening match of the Angola 2010 Africa Cup of Nations game played in Cabinda on Friday.
It was a humiliating defeat for the Stars, as it has rendered their chances of progressing into the next stage a herculean one after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Star studded Ivorian side.
With high hopes of stunning the Ivorians in the much awaited game despite the absence some key players of the Stars, the relatively youthful Ghanaian side exhibited signs of nervousness and cautiousness in the initial stages probably due to respect for stardom at the sight of the big names in the Ivorian team.
Ghana’s Western neighbour took total control of the midfield as Yaya Toure Didier Zokora and Tiene Siaka dictated the pace, rendering the Ghanaians clueless as they laboured in vain to find the antidote to their raids.
The Stars hardly initiated any successful attack, and it was the Ivorians who nearly broke the game in the 16th minute through an intelligent volley from Zokora which was well dealt with by Kingston.
With a high level of aggression and dominance in midfield, the Ivorians capitalized on the nervousness of the Stars and succeeded with the opener in the 22nd minute through a perfect attack.
A midfield move initiated by Yaya located Salomon Kalou on the right side of the Ghanaian defence and with a swift cross, Yao Kousi Gervinho was on hand to do the wrap up as he shrugged off a late challenge from Isaac Vorsah.
Though the Stars were challenged to redeem their image, they were just not able to break the Ivorians defence as all their efforts were thwarted but a 38th minute intelligent shot from Kwadjo Asamoah which would counted as one of the most cherished goals in the fiesta, was well dealt with by keeper Barry Boubacary.
It marked the return of Ghana into the Ivorian dominated game, as the Stars begin to settle and find their rhythm but it was too late in the half for them to cancel the lead as the first half ended in favour of Cote d’ Ivoire.
A more impressive performance from Ghana in the second half, nearly gave the Stars an equalizer as they began to string their passes creating some scoring chances.
This was made possible by the introduction of Micheal Essien for Mousa Narry who ensured that he put the breaks on the Ivorian attack, whilst he made consistent supply to the attack.
As Ghana mounted pressure on the Ivorians coupled with the exit of Emmanuel Eboue who was red carded for a violent play on Opoku Agyeman in the 54th minute,it seemed apparent that the equalizer was coming but never materialized.
The Stars did not give up and searched desperately for a level, which nearly came in the 56th minute, but the goal post denied Mathew Amoah and his country the much sought after goal.
Another perfect free kick by Asamoah again in the 62nd minute was tapped to corner, which was subsequently wasted.
Ghana’s hopes of canceling the lead was dashed in the 66th minute when Tiene Saka’s free kick zoomed straight into the net as it caught keeper Kingston off his foot.
With the game gradually crawling to an end, the Ivorian shattered the dreams of Ghana, with a third goal beautifully executed by substitute Kader Keita who mesmerized Inkoom and with a perfect cross, Drogba was high in the air to head home the Ghanaian heart break.
Ghana had a consolation during injury time through a penalty converted by Asamoah Gyan But it was too late to push them back into contention as South African referee Jerome Damon brought proceedings to an end.
Ghana: Richard Kingson, Samuel Inkoom, Rahim Ayew, Isaac Vorsah, Eric Addo, Agyeman Badu, Opoku Agyeman/Harrison Afful , Moussa Narry/Michael Essien Kwadjo Asamoah, Mathew Amoah, Dede Ayew/Asamoah Gyan
Code d’Ivoire: Barry Boubacary, Kolo Toure, Didier Zokora, Yaya Toure/Fae Emerse, Salomon Kalou/Kader keita, Tiote Ismael, Yao Gervinho/Roland Guy Demel , Didier Drogba, Tiene Siaka, Emmanuel Eboue, Bamba Souleman.