On the day their country celebrated 64th Independence Day, Ghana‘s black satellites delivered the ultimate gift, the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) title after a 2-0 victory on the Ugandan debutants in the final in Nouakchott on Saturday.
Skipper Daniel Afriyie led from the front and put on a military salute dance to celebrate at every opportunity, as Ghana clinched their fourth continental Under-20 title, and a first since their last conquest in 2009.
The African Football Confederation (CAF) media reported on its website that the black satellites reproduced the same scoring line the two countries displayed when they last met in a continental final, namely in the 1978 Senior Nations Cup.
By design or by chance, it’s also another Afriyie, this time Opoku, who has scored twice for the senior Ghanaians.
Ghana went to the break with one goal in hand, and rightly so after making an early scare to score thanks to Afriyie. Uganda were faster out of the blocks and should have scored after three minutes when a long ball caught Derrick Kakooza’s run, but his lob on the keeper passed.
Almost immediately Uganda had another chance with Isma Muguusi’s trimmer moving widely.
But after dodging the bullet twice, the Ghanaians woke up from their slumber.
They had the bar refusing them twice in a row in a corner of Abdul Fatawu Issahaku. First, Percious Boah’s connection came off the bar and the rebound, Nathaniel Adjei also sent a shot through the bar.
The Ugandans were nervous in the set pieces in defense and Ghana were constantly looking for turns but couldn’t stretch the lead any further. Fatawu tried to open the stalemate with a well-taken free kick from a distance, but Jack Komakech had it covered.
The Ugandans ultimately failed on a set piece, Afriyie sneaking up to the near post to strike a header into the corner of Fatawu.
It was just the goal they needed as they were playing with more confidence and Uganda looked stunned and panicked and for a few moments forgot their ball game nature.
Ghana took the opportunity to build up the pressure and they scored another goal in the 31st minute, but Patrick Mensah’s low shot from 20 yards was saved well by the keeper.
The Black Satellites only needed five minutes after the start of the second half to shake Ugandan hopes of a comeback, with Afriyie completing his brace.
Fatawu nipped the ball off Steven Sserwadda in midfield before putting Boah on the sidelines, the forward slicing a cross into the box that his captain delightfully tapped into an unguarded net.
Four minutes into the turn, Sserwadda had the chance to atone for his mistake when Mugulusi’s cross from the right found him unmarked inside the box, but he hung his head above the closed off.
Ugandan coach Morley Byekwaso has changed formation, Ivan Bogere and Samuel Senyonjo replacing Richard Basangwa and Ivan Asaba. With the change, Senyonjo joined Kakooza from the start for a double strike option.
Bogere was snappy after his entry and he should have scored a goal in the 70th minute when the ball gracefully landed on him inside the box, but his turn shot was too weekly, goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim collecting with ease.
Uganda kept the hunt on both goals but failed to score with Ghana seeing the result for a happy ending to a happy Independence Day. (PANA / NAN)
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