Finally, the Ghana men’s team gave their numerous fans their heart’s desire by beating Nigeria 3-2 in an exciting overtime game in the bronze medal match of the African Cup for Nations.
The game began with Ghana showing a determination to atone for their dismal performance in the pool matches. They attacked the Nigerian defense relentlessly with beautiful moves in midfield and on the wings. Not to be outplayed, Nigeria made dangerous incursions into the Ghana half forcing goalkeeper Opoku Danso to make some beautiful saves. After a fairly balanced opening half, Ghana took the lead a minute from recess from a penalty corner converted by David Gagblah.
Ghana went up 2-0 in the 41st minute when Daniel Lamptey scored from a rebound off a beautiful save by Nigerian goalie Emmanuel Monday. Down 0-2, Nigerian began to attack the Ghana defense and in the 49th minute, reduced the tally through their dangerous striker Sunday Ogododun. Buoyed by the goal, Nigeria continued to dominate the midfield with razor-sharp passes and beautiful stickwork while the Ghana defense reeled on its heels. In the 49th minute, their efforts were rewarded when Nigeria earned another penalty corner. The well-taken strike was deflected into the path of Edward Adamson who coolly tapped the ball home for the equalizer.
Realizing that their dream of a face-saving bronze medal was in jeopardy, Ghana went into attack tormenting the defense of Nigeria. A number of penalty corners Ghana earned were wasted, and what seemed like the game winner was waved off sending the game into sudden death overtime.
The two teams began the extra period with a series of swarming attacks and counter-attacks. Both goalkeepers were called upon to make some very daring saves. Seven minutes into extra time, Ghana earned a penalty corner from which they notched the golden goal to earn a well-fought bronze medal, and to bring the smiles back on the faces of their enthusiastic supporters.
In the women’s bronze medal match, Egypt scored their first goal of the tournament through Asmaah Mosen from a penalty stroke in the 50th minute but went down 1-4 to Nigeria. Nigeria’s goals were scored by Oluchi Obiefule (PC, 14th minute), John Alfa (FG, 32nd minute), Stella Nnanah (FG, 46th minute) and Suzan Bulus (FG, 64th minute).
The gold medal matches will be played on Saturday July 18, 2009 to bring the curtain down on a very exciting tournament. Defending champions South Africa will play Egypt in the men’s category at 17:30 while South Africa will play host nation Ghana in the women’s category at 15:30.