Libyan striker Mohamed Ghanudi Abushnaf (left) vying for the ball against Ghana’s Nuru Sulley during the drawn African Nations Championships match on Friday
Libya and Ghana played out a thrilling 1-1 draw in group C of the Africa Nations Championship at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung on Friday to stay locked on four points each at the top of Group C and with Libya in first position by virtue of more goals scored.
It was a game of two halves; the first half belonging to Ghana while Libya controlled the second. Ghana opened the scoring after only six minutes though Yahaya Mohamed whose powerful header found the net, while Libya hit back from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute through Fasail Ali.
The pulsating match got off to a pacey start with Ghana taking the game to Libya. It would be a reversal of fortunes in the second with Libya having the lion’s share of possession and putting the Black Stars under scrutiny
Both sides came into the game on back of first game wins and aware that victory would put them within touching distance of a quarterfinal place.
The goal that enabled Ghana to forge ahead started with Theophilus Abobaah who released Joshua Tijani on the left flank. The latter provided the cross from which Yahaya scored with a bullet header.
It was the encouragement the Black Stars and the goal worked wonders for Yahaya who was soon tormenting Libyan defence at will. On 22nd minute he hit a low shot that went mere centimetres wide of goal.
Libya having recovered from conceding the early goal opted for long balls into the Ghana half that were initially dealt with by Kwabena Adusei and Tijani before Mohamed Ghanudi and Elmutasem Abushnaf turned the tables on as Libya began dominating possession.
Ghana goalkeeper Stephen Adams twice spilled innocuous shots and on 29th minute Libya’s Ghanudi failed to take advantage from metres out and Ghana cleared the danger.
Yahaya again for Ghana almost got his second goal with another header on 42 minutes but after good work he shot weakly and straight at the keeper.
Libya returned from the break more purposeful and soon put pressure on the Ghana a defence and got close to an equaliser, but Abushnaf missed a good chance by directing his header into the arms of Adams.
A couple of penalty appeals from Libya did not go their way but when Nuru Sulley held back substitute Muataz Fadel Houssein just inside the box the Mediterranean Knights were awarded a spot kick. Up stepped Faisal Ali to convert sending Adams the wrong way.
There were further close shaves from both sides in the dying minutes but referee Victor Gomes who started the match as fourth official but replaced injured Redouane Jiyed midway into the second brought the thrilling match to and end with the sides still deadlocked.
In the other Group C match, Congo claimed their first points of the Championship with a 1 -0 win over Ethiopia to get back in contention for a place among the last eight.
A second half strike from Rudy Ndey condemned a wasteful Ethiopia to defeat and virtual exit from CHAN 2014. For long periods it looked like it would be Ethiopia’s night as they created chance after chance but somehow could not score.
Congo managed to weather an onslaught from Ethiopia and utilised their chance when it mattered most courtesy of Hardy Binguila picking out Rudy Ndey with a pass that the latter side footed past the keeper for the only goal of the match.
In their final Group C matches on Tuesday January 20, Libya play Congo, whle Ghana face Ethiopia.
The championship continues Saturday with two matches from Group D: RD Congo v Gabon, and Burundi v Mauritania
CHAN 2014: Underdogs Libya Out to Make up for 1982 Loss Against Ghana in Saturday’s Final Libyan football supporters have not been this enthusiastic about their national football team in 32 years, that’s the only time they played in a continental tournament final. It was March 19, 1982. Then, as this Saturday in the final, of the African Nations Championship, their opponents in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations that Libya itself hosted, were the Black Stars of Ghana.
CHAN 2014: Libya, Ghana in Final Following Penalty-Shooting Contests Libya have managed to go beyond their expectations and following a 5-4 victory at the end of a penalty-shooting contest in their semi-final clash against Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, qualified to contest the final of the African Nations Championship on Saturday against Ghana, who also got through following a shoot-off with Nigeria, winning it 4-1.
CHAN 2014: Libya Beat Gabon to Reach Semi-Finals At the end of a lacklustre encounter at the Peter Mokaba Stadium Libya beat Gabon 4-2 on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the African Nations Championships in South Africa and will now meet Zimbabwe for a place in the final. Ghana managed to get the otehr quarter-final place by beating RD Congo 1-0.