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CAN 2012 Match Report from Ben…

Super goals from Asamoah Gyan & Ayew give Ghana Football Team victory over Mali

The Blackstars virtually assured themselves a place in the quarter-finals of the CAN with win over Mali. In a much improved performance from the first game two stunning second half strikes from Asamoah Gyan and Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew was the difference in Franceville.

Ghana made two changes from the first match against Botswana with Jonathan Mensah coming in for suspended skipper John Mensah. Playmaker, Kwadwo Asamoah also returned to the side in place of Jordan Ayew, while John Pantsil took over captain. For Mali star player Seydou Keita shook off a slight injury to retain his place in their starting line up. The game started at a high tempo with the Ghana having the lion share of possession. Asamoah had a shot from 25 yards which was spilled by Guinea keeper Soumaila Diakite but Sulley Muntari could only put his follow up shot wide under pressure from the defender.

As the half went on Mali began to grow into the game and were unlucky not score when a free kick from Cheick Diabate hit both posts (yes both!) after beating Ghana keeper Kwaresey. Mali midfielder Abdou Traore then saw his follow-up sail over. Towards the end of the half Ghana hit Mali on the counter attack with Pantsil playing a ball into the penalty box and Dede Ayew glancing his header agonisingly wide. A decent chance one would have to say.

To the second half and Ghana come out knowing they have to do more to get the win. They started with more purpose and 10 minutes into the half Dede Ayew zips in a shot at Diakite, which the Malian goalkeeper spills, but does well to prevent a follow-up from Gyan. It was looking increasingly likely that something special would be needed to break the deadlock and then it came; when Gyan opened his Nations Cup account in some style by curling in beautifully a free-kick from just outside the area beautifully into the top corner. A wonderful goal.

The goal gave Ghana more confidence as they began to come forward. The Blackstars doubled their lead 12 minutes later with a brilliantly-taken solo effort from the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year ‘Dede’ Ayew. Fellow goalscorer Gyan back-flicked the ball into his path cleverly, then Ayew did the rest himself by wrong-footing the Mali defence before switching feet skilfully and firing home with his left at the near post. Another great goal. Ghana were in the driving seat and held on for a vital deserved win after a better second half performance.

Ghana now go into the last game needing just a point to win the group. Guinea’s 6-1 win in the other game means they Mali and even Botswana (a very small chance) could still qualify.

What are your thoughts on the game? Leave your comments below

Ben JK Anim-Antwi