Day 10 - Ghana beat Burkina Faso in the only game of the day at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Angola to ensure their progress to the knockout phase. The 1-0 win was secured with a goal in the 30th minute from Andre 'Dede' Ayew, who is the son of Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele.
Côte d'Ivoire, who did not play because their match with Togo was cancelled, win Group B on four points, while Ghana go through with three. In the quarter-finals, the Black Stars will face Group A winners and hosts Angola in what is sure to be a vibrant Luanda on Sunday, while the Elephants stay in Cabinda to battle fellow FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers Algeria on the same day.
Togo had withdrawn from Group B before the start of the tournament following a deadly attack on their bus in Cabinda.
Burkina Faso 0-1 Ghana (A. Ayew 30’)
Goal of the day
Burkina Faso 0-1 Ghana, Andre Ayew (30’)
It was the first day at the CAN where only one goal was scored, and it was a remarkably easy one for the bandy-legged Ayew, who had a busy afternoon with his runs down the left side of the field. A swinging cross from the right looped dangerously across the Burkinabe defence and found Ayew completely unmarked just outside the six-yard box. He kept his concentration and did not have to even move his feet but rather just directed his head downward and sent the ball crashing into the back of the net. Given how stoutly Les Etalons had defended in their opening group game against Côte d'Ivoire in Cabinda, it came as a surprise how much space Ayew found.
Drama to the last
There weren’t too many chances in the match, but there was enough tension to make it a must-watch contest until the end. Ghana had to win and the Burkinabe needed a draw. It was in the closing stages that the suspense increased and there was a heart-stopping moment for the Ghanaians three minutes into second-half stoppage time. Mahamadou Kere drove a square cross for Moumouni Dagano, the marksman who was the top scorer in the South Africa 2010 qualifiers. But as Dagano looked set to swoop on the ball, Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson made a brave dive at the feet of the big forward and saved the day for the Black Stars.
Running like the wind
Jonathan Pitroipa got a heartfelt compliment from opposing Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac after the match and with good reason too. Pitroipa toiled tirelessly through the game down the wing, taking on defenders with his pace and causing panic in the Black Stars defence. His run in the eighth minute was the best of the lot as he cut inside from the left after outpacing the defence but just could not force the ball past netminder Kingson, who came out well for the cross.
Red means stop
It was in the 66th minute that Burkina Faso’s campaign looked to come to an end when Mamadou Tall picked up a caution for an innocuous looking challenge on Asamoah Gyan and had to go off because he had already been booked. Handicapped by the disadvantage of being a man down, Burkina Faso seemed to lose momentum in their search for the equaliser that could have put them into the quarter-finals.
The man in the stands
The image of injured Black Stars icon Michael Essien in the stands watching while his team celebrated their goal further underlined how many key players Ghana are missing at the event. Six regular starters are out for the side trying to win their fifth African title, and a further handful are battling with their fitness in the camp. As Essien will not play for the rest of the event, the young team - with many players from last year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup team (including Ayew) - have to continue to prove themselves on the big stage.
13 – The number of times Ghana have made it past the first round of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 17 appearances. Their only failures were in 1980, 1984, 1998 and memorably in 2006 when they lost two of three matches and went out on goal difference.
What they said
“It was a very competitive match. They kept attacking us, and they were dangerous, particularly from set pieces. In the second half, we had chances to counter-attack, but we lacked concentration in our finishing." Ghana's Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac.
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