CAN ’10: Quarterfinals! Angola-Ghana
So, after all that faffing about in the group stages, it’s DOMINGÃO, a Super-CAN Sunday—it’s finally time for the African Cup of Nations KNOCKOUT ROUNDS. I know, the last time your BOLAS & BANDEIRAS editors proclaimed a game’s do-or-die status is was the sneaky handshake deal/borefest of Angola 0-0 Algeria—well I assure you nothing of the sort will transpire today!
By qualifying for the QF, the Palancas Negras have already equaled their best past performance, when they were dumped out by winners Egypt at this stage in 2008. Things are a bit different this go-round: they’re the host nations and they’re coached by one of the most successful coaches in African football history. Unsurprisingly, the showdown is massive news in Angola! They last faced Ghana in a friendly back in November, which ended 0-0…but surely this match has a BIT more at stake. The Estadio 11 de Novembro should be stuffed to it’s 50,000 capacity, and it’s expected that 14 million Angolans will tune in on TV & radio.
What about Ghana? Their team narrative remains the same: massive injuries throughout the squad, with midfield TALISMAN Michael Essien now also officially out. So it’s up to their U-20 World Cup-winning youthmen!
Head of the Ghana Football Association Randy Abbey has made claims of mindgames and intimidatory tactics on the part of the Angolan sports establishment & press (there were reports that a Black Stars bodypainting superfan was beaten by Angolan security?!), adding that “If it’s a new form of tactics, then they better think of breaking our legs as well”.
Angola: Fernandes, Kali, Rui Marques, Zuela, Mabina, Stelvio, Xara, Djalma, Gilberto, Manucho, Flavio
Ghana: Kingson, Addy, Inkoom, Sarpei, Vorsah, Agyemang-Badu, Dede Ayew, Opoku, Asamoah, Haminu, Dramani, Gyan
No big changes for either team…Flávio returns for Angola, and left-sided midfielder Gilberto has overcome injury. For Ghana, tiny little stiker Opoku is the only change. Kickoff shortly!!! I’m going to soak up the atmosphere and train my eye on proceedings…update at Halftime!
ANGOLA 0-1 GHANA at Halftime! A somewhat measured first half, with both teams focused on keeping organized and hitting on the counterattack. Ghana’s goal came from some hot Asamoah-on-Asamoah action, when Kwadwo Asamoah lofted in a defense-splitting crossfield ball which Asamoah Gyan outraced Kali to and neatly finished. Ghana are actualizing their tactical plan a bit more astutely, doing a particularly good job of getting numbers back in defense. Not all confident play from The Black Stars though, who’ve had numerous defensive mixups between their CBs (Addy in particular) and keeper Richard Kingson. Manucho has had two golden chances to equalize, the less forgivable of the two coming just before halftime as he blazed over the bar when Flávio had worked hard to control a knocked down ball and tee him up.
Roughly 20 minutes left for Angola to do this…they are looking NERVOUS, with lots of misplaced passes in the final 1/3 of the field. They’re peppering in long balls that neither Manucho nor Flávio are successfully controlling. Manuel Jose has brought on Petro Atletico winger Job on for the dazed looking Stelvio…possibly throwing on a local crowd favorite to jazz up the locals. The crowd have seemed mildly shocked, as this is the first time Angola have been behind all tournament.
PUXXXXXXA! Manucho heads just over the bar when he AGAIN really should have scored…the youngster’s mental fortitude is not quite up to the occassion today. Ze Kalanga comes on as Angola throw on more offensive firepower. TUDO OU NADA!
+5 MINS ADDED TIME here! Capitão Kali has gotten forward here and has just missed out on two tasty opportunities…INTENSIDADE!
FIM DE JOGO: ANGOLA 0-1 GHANA! Congratulations to the Black Stars, who have dismissed the hosts. An extremely well-organized, if uninspiring, performance by Ghana…their youngsters had more resolve than creativity. Angola seemed more riddled with anxiety than supercharged with emotion, they were particularly wasteful from set pieces.