Asamoah Gyan wasn’t born the last time Ghana were crowned kings of Africa. But after last night’s victory over Tunisia the latest generation of Black Stars could be on course to put an end to 30 years of hurt and reclaim the CAN for the first time since 1982.
As is so often the case when the stakes are so high neither team could get into their rhythm early on. Then with their first foray up the field Ghana won a corner and the game briefly exploded into life.
From the set-piece, captain John Mensah found room in the box to glance a header into the bottom corner to get the party started. As the players, led by Gyan, shook their thing in celebration, it looked like Ghana had settled. But the goal failed to kickstart the game as a spectacle and with defences on top the attack-minded players had to do it themselves. Several times in the first half, Gyan opened his box of tricks in an attempt to create something out of nothing.
With Ghana unable to build on their lead Tunisia felt their way into the game. They got their reward five minutes before half-time when following a hopeful punt into the box Saber Khelifa rose highest to nod in the equaliser.
Late into the second half, and still all square, Ghana carved out one more chance. Asamoah dinked it into his strike partner Gyan who at full stretch managed to divert the ball on target. With the ball angling for the bottom corner Tunisian goalkeeper Mathlouthi stayed strong to keep his country in the cup.
Ten minutes into extra time the Black Stars took the lead when hero Mathlouthi turned villain gifting the ball to André Ayew who scored. With the game running away from them the Tunisians their frustrations got the better of them. Defender Abdennour essentially ended the game as a contest when, under pressure from the goal scorer Ayew, he lost his head and threw a wayward elbow catching him in the face. The referee had no option but to send him off leaving the north Africans with ten men and just over ten minutes to get back into the game.
It proved too high a mountain to climb as Ghana held on. They go on to meet Zambia in Wednesday’s semi-final and are in with a chance to claim their fifth CAN trophy.