Efficient display ensures AFCON progression for Black Stars
The Black Stars booked a sixth successive quarterfinal appearance at the AFCON after a hard fought 1-0 win over Mali in Port-Gentil.
A sublime cross from the much criticized Jordan Ayew was well met by Asamoah Gyan who headed home the only goal and bag Ghana all three points.
The game was a carbon copy of Tuesday’s encounter against Uganda with the Stars dominating the exchanges in the first half with Christian Atsu assuming his tormentor in chief role once again. The Newcastle man enjoyed so much joy down the right either going to byline or cutting onto his much favored left foot to slice open the Malian defence.
On one of his forays, Atsu went down the bye line and cut back a cross neatly but miscommunication between Jordan and Dede Ayew saw the former pick the ball on the turn and shoot widely.
However, there was no such miscommunication when Jordan whipped in a delicious cross for Asamoah Gyanto connect firmly. The goal made Gyan the outright leading scorer for Ghana at the tournament with 8 and keep an enviable record of scoring in every major competition.
Ghana dictated the pace and tempo with Thomas Partey using his energy in midield while Mubarak Wakaso passed with accuracy and precision.
However the second half was a far cry from the first as Ghana failed to control the game and were constantly pegged back by the Malians.
Agyeman Badu and Afriyie Acquah replaced Asamoah Gyan and Jordan Ayew respectively as Avram Grant sought to preserve the lead but it was keeper Razak Braimah who pulled off two heroic saves to win the points for Ghana.
Ghana now face Egypt fully assured of a quarter final berth but will need at least a point to confirm top spot.