Black Stars advance to quarter-finals at AFCON 2017

The Black Stars of Ghana, advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with lone goal victory, over highly rated Mali, in the second Group D game played at Port Gentil.

The Stars, managed the entry into the next phase of the competition, by collecting the six maximum points from two games.

However, the Stars will need at least a draw to avoid leaving Port Gentil, by topping the group.

It was a game that saw the Stars dominated slightly in the first half and succeeded in scoring the only goal of the match but allowed the Malians to take over the second half, which nearly deny the Stars the three maximum points.

It was a close and tight game, with each side approaching with a lot of caution, but Ghana’s attack led by slippery Atsu was a tormentor of the Malian defence running at them every minute.

Andre Ayew, who earlier battled with malaria was to be the first beneficiary of Atsu’s raids, but he misdirected the ball and failed to covert the best chance in the first quarter of the game in the 16th minute.

Four minutes on, veteran striker Asamoah Gyan, was on hand to give Ghana the lead, which eventually became the match winner.

Gyan’s diving header to Jordan Ayew’s cross in the 20th minute beat Oumar Sissoko in post for Mali.

Mousa Marega, Bakary Sako and Mamoutou N’diaye mounted pressure on the Star defence in search of the equalizer, but John Boye and Daniel Amartey were on hand to tidy up the defence.

It was virtually a half, which saw goalkeeper Razak Braimah on holidays for Ghana as he maintained a clean sheet.

And end-to-end action characterised the second half, with Mali the dominant side.          

They ensured the Stars defence boiled throughout the half, but were just unlucky to score on some occasions, whilst Brimah was it his best to deny them the equalizer.

Substitute Yves Bissouma, Kalifa Coulibaly and Moussa Doumbia gave the Ghana team much to trouble about by dominating the midfield, providing more arsenals for the attack, which were never utilized.

This compelled the Ayew brothers to drop deep into defence together with Atsu and rendered the Ghana attack impotent.

Coach Avram Grant also sent on two defensive midfielders, Afriyie Acquah and Agyemang Badu for Gyan and Ayew to keep the aggressive Malians at bay.

Coulibally, on two occasions 79th and 87th minutes could have converted two clear-cut chances, but had Brimah denying him.

Sako’s free kick could have given Mali the last smile, but again the Ghana defence, stood firm and ensure the three maximum points was intact.

Line up: Razak Braimah, Harrison Afful, Frank Acheampong, John Boye, Daniel Amartey, Thomas Partey, Mubarak Wakaso, Christian Atsu, Jordan Ayew/Afriyie Acquah, Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan/Agyemang Badu.

Source: GNA

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