Black Stars drop out at AFCON semi finals.
Ghanaians never expected their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations experience would end like this. The Black Stars were tournament favourites and analysts predicted a final between Ghana and Ivory Coast. But a 78th-minute goal by Zambian Emmanuel Mayuka at the Bata stadium in Equatorial Guinea ruined Ghana’s hopes of lifting the cup for a fifth time and fans following the game back home on outdoor big screens were crushed.
The game could have turned out very differently had Asamoah Gyan not missed an eighth-minute penalty. Ghana dominated the game but struggled to create chances.
“Now we are very disappointed, we should have won the cup and now we cannot determine when we would win it again,” said Gideon Ofori a fan in Accra.
A fervent Zambia side pushed Ghana — some analysts say the southern African copper bullets were inspired by the opportunity to honor the players that died in a plane crash in 1993 off the coast of Gabon, the venue of their final clash against Ivory Coast on Sunday (February 12).
Ghana’s performance brought back bitter taste of the 2010 World Cup where they managed to reach the semi final but not the final.
“We should recruit the young ones and train them better because we should not rely on the senior ones, they are always giving us heart problems, you know when we follow them we will waste our time on football,” said Michael Ahorsu, another Ghanaian fan.
In Mali, fans also in outdoor screening venues were less tense yet hopeful that Mali could cause an upset against Ivory Coast, in the same way Zambia had against Ghana just over an hour before.
But an individual goal from Gervinho put Ivory Coast into the African Nations Cup final with a 1-0 win.
Ivory Coast proved too powerful for their fellow West Africans and might have won by a bigger margin but both sides were visibly tired and struggled to find their rythm.
Fans in Bamako said they were proud of their Seydou Keita-led team for making it to the semi finals even though they did not reach the final.
“We have never had a team like this. Frankly speaking these are youngsters that have all the future for them, and in every respect the people of Mali are ready to motivate them. Sincere thanks to the trainer, because we Malians didn’t expect the Malian team to come so far. We are happy in every respect and very satisfied with them, they did a good job,” said Yacoube Kante, a Malian fan.
“They showed us something with the match today. I am very satisfied with them, very proud of them. I appreciate today’s performance. We are all happy and no one is disappointed, except they didn’t win, but that’s a matter of luck,” said Keita Soire, another fan.
Sunday’s match will be third final for the Ivory Coast, who won the tournament in 1992.
Zambia will also play their third final having previously lost in 1974 and 1994.
- Goal: Africa Cup of Nations: Zambia in Final (goal.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Ivory Coast to Meet Zambia in Final (nytimes.com)
- Mali v Ivory Coast preview (skysports.com)
- Zambia 1-0 Ghana (guardian.co.uk)