Ghana stunned tournament favourites Japan with a 1-0 win in Baku as Sherifatu Sumaila's goal following a huge goalkeeping mistake saw the African side upset the odds.
Japan had come into the game without conceding a goal throughout Azerbaijan 2012 and as the competition's top scorers, but Black Maidens coach Mas-Ud Dramani was confident his side could beat the Asian pass-masters.
It took 15 minutes before the first meaningful effort on target, with Ghana’s resident goal-getter Jane Ayieyam testing Chika Hirao as the African side matched Japan well.
Priscilla Okyere really gave the Japanese stopper a scare ten minutes later, firing a dipping, swerving strike that the 15-year-old had to watch keenly before tipping over.
It took Japan over half an hour to get their first clear chance as Ghana defended solidly, when Ruka Norimatsu volleyed wide after meeting a corner well. They then tested Victoria Agyei in the Ghana goal fully 5 minutes from the break, Rika Masuya striking low and hard after good work by Ayaka Inoue.
Poor goalkeeper at the other half sent the Japanese reeling soon after half-time though. Sherifatu Sumaila was allowed to run a long way down the right wing, but even she wouldn’t have expected Hirao to let her tame cross-come-shot through her legs.
It was the first goal they had conceded in 364 minutes, a new tournament record, though unlikely a feat they’ll celebrate in the circumstances.
Going behind was a novel experience for the Little Nadeshiko and had the task of making it past a Ghana side who were packing the route to goal with bodies.
It took ten minutes for them to make any real headway after Yui Hasegawa showed quick feet to skip past two defenders and shoot from range, but Agyei dived well and gathered. The way continued to be a tough one, with Japan being forced to efforts from range, Masuya this time going close.
With virtually the last touch of the game Agyei dived to prevent Japan heading in from a corner, meaning Ghana will face France on Tuesday for the chance at a place in the final.
The quote"This game was very tactical. We scouted our opponent and the opponent scouted us. We tried to respect their strengths and we played to our own. We also spotted their weaknesses and our physical condition was the hallmark of our win."Mas-Ud Dramani, Ghana coach