Ghana knocked out of AFCON 2019

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Black Stars

Ghana were knocked out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on penalties by a resolute Tunisian side who were denied a win in regulation time by a Bedoui own goal in the 1st minute of time added on after Khessini had handed them the lead in the 73rd minute.

The Carthage Eagles, however, saw out their penalty shootout advantage after Caleb Ekuban missed his kick, scoring all 5 to win 5-4.

Tunisia had the better start in the cagey early moments and looked to be through on goal in the 6th minute when Msakni released Khenissi but Yiadom managed to put a foot in before the latter could have a shot at goal. Ghana settled after the early exchanges and looked surer of their play.

A period of sustained pressure almost got them the lead in the 15th minute when Kassim Nuhu’s header from a corner hit the foot of the post, the rebound fell to Andre Ayew but he fluffed his shot. The chance seemed to jolt the Carthage Eagles awake but Ghana stayed resolute defensively with Kassim Nuhu, twice, and Thomas Partey coming up with three last ditch interventions in the box to prevent what would have been clear cut chances for Tunisia.

The game swung again as the Ghanaians took control of the game once more, this time they had a goal disallowed as Partey was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build up to Andre Ayew’s finish. Ghana kept up the pressure as the half closed out but couldn’t find the breakthrough goal.

Ghana started the second half the same way they ended the first keeping the north Africas under pressure but with nothing to show for it apart from an Andre Ayew header that was deflected just wide. Tunisia had a chance of their own in the 53rd minute when a header from a corner looked to be looping into the Ghanaian goal but went just wide. The introduction of Wahbi Khazri in the 68th minute seemed to be the spark Tunisia needed as they went close to breaking the deadlock thrice in the next couple of minutes. A good run from Khazri saw him slide the ball agonizingly across the face of goal before being cleared amid shouts for handball. The resulting corner was also scrambled clear for another one from which Khenissi hit the crossbar with his header. The goal finally came in the 73rd minute, Khazri involved once more as he released Kechrida with a neat flick down the wing, and Khenissi was present in the box to convert the full back’s cross past Ofori to finally break the deadlock. Ghana upped the ante in a bid to get the equalizer and came close twice in quick succession. First goalkeeper Hassen Mouze clashed with a defender in an attempt to collect a loose ball but Jordan Ayew’s effort from the rebound was blocked before Wakaso hit the post with his effort from distance. The game seemed to be slipping out of the reach of the Ghanaians with Wakaso and Nuhu both guilty of aggressive tackles as the Tunisians looked to see out the game. The Black Stars’ blushes were spared very late on however as Bedoui’s attempted clearance from a Wakaso free kick in the 1st minute of time added on, looped over his own keeper to take the game into extra time.

The extra time saw the general theme of the game continue with the Ghanaians controlling the game and applying pressure but struggling to breakthrough while the Tunisians looked threatening whenever the opportunity presented itself, Wahbi Khazri stinging Ofori’s palms with an effort from distance in the 97th minute after the Black Stars had controlled the early minutes of extra time. The Black Stars didn’t get a clear chance in extra time till the 115th minute but J. Ayew sliced his volley wide after being the first to get to a loose ball in the box missing the chance to decide the match without penalties.

Ghana lost out in the shootout, Caleb Ekuban’s miss handing the Tunisians the advantage which they held on to this time, scoring all 5 of their kicks to win 5-4

By Joshua Ansah, Daily Mail GH

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