Ghana edge into Angola quarters
Ghana defeated 10-man Burkina Faso 1-0 on Tuesday to add their names to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Angola 2010 quarter-final cast list. The FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers and four-time continental champions will now face hosts Angola at the 11 November stadium on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals.
After their opening 3-1 defeat to favourites Côte d'Ivoire this was a must win game for Ghana if they weren't to be sent home in disgrace. And Andre Ayew, son of one of Africa's most decorated players, Abedi 'Pele' Ayew, earned them the three points with the decisive first-half goal and the runners-up spot in Group B behind table toppers and fellow South Africa 2010 qualifiers Côte d'Ivoire.
Ghana suffered a major eve-of-match blow with Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien's having to pull out with a right knee injury picked up in training on Sunday - though he was on hand to watch from the stands as his team-mates triumphed.
Ghana's Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac said: "This was a very important game for our team - psychologically it was tough. It was a competitve match, Burkina Faso played more offensively than they had against Ivory Coast. They were capable of scoring, especially from set pieces.
"It was hard with the weather conditions and the pitch was far from perfect," he went on. "In the second half they attacked more which gave us the chance to counter atttack but we lacked concentration in our finishing."
Loooking ahead to the last eight match-up with the hosts he added: "We played a friendly against Angola two months ago (0-0 draw), we know them well."
Burkina Faso only required a draw to see them go through after a tight defensive strategy had harvested one point in their goalless opener against Côte d'Ivoire. The Burkinabe marginally had the better of a forgettable first half hour that lacked punch until the 30th minute when Ghana's Bayer Leverkusen defender Hans Adu Sarpei conjured up a perfect cross from the right flank for Ayew to head sharply past keeper Daouda Diakite.
Sarpei picked up a yellow card shortly after for a late challenge on Jonathan Pitroipa to add to the three already dished out by Seychelles referee Eddy Maillet to Burkina Faso's Mamadou Tall, Pitriopa and Mady Panandetiguiri.
Burkina Faso emerged for the second half knowing they had to accomplish something they had failed to do in Angola up to now - namely score - if they and not Ghana were to progress. Ghana however remained firmly in control and on 66 minutes Burkina Faso were down a man as Maillet red-carded defender Mamadou Tall for a challenge on Asamoah Gyan.
Draman almost extended Ghana's lead with quarter of an hour remaining but his shot came to rest in the near post's side netting.