The Chipolopolo have booked their ticket for the 2012 Afcon final after proving more efficient than their Ghanaian opposition
An 80th minute strike from Emmanuel Mayuka was enough for Zambia to oust trophy favourites Ghana at the Bata Stadium and send the Chipolopolo to their first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final in close to two decades.
The match got underway with Herve Renard’s men looking quicker on the ball after having benefited from one more day’s rest than their Ghanaian opponents who needed an extra time session to oust Tunisia on Monday.
Zambia’s superiority didn’t last long though as the Black Stars reacted to Isaac Chansa’s distant strike with a flurry of attacks that culminated in a penalty kick being awarded to them when Kwadwo Asamoah was taken down by Davies Nkausu in the 7th minute.
With the Black Stars poised to take an early lead, Kennedy Mweene produced a diving save to deny Asamoah Gyan’s unconvincing effort and keep the game scoreless, reinvigorating his team-mates. Nevertheless, Ghana continued to take the initiative to make up for their missed opportunity.
Jordan Ayew was in particularly fine form for the Ghanaians, who asserted a higher attacking rhythm in the first half than they’ve exhibited throughout the entire tournament. Meanwhile, the Chipolopolo were content to absorb pressure and launch counterattacks, one of which was close to perfection.
After some excellent work from James Chamanga, Christopher Katongo missed with Adam Kwarasey at his mercy. Katongo’s well-timed run exposed the organised Black Stars defence for the first time and hinted at the southern Africans' intentions. The last clear chance of the half fell to Asamoah, whose shot from just outside the penalty area was deflected out for a corner.
The younger Ayew continued shining in the second period, creating an early chance for himself on 49 minutes that Mweene had no problem dealing with. Shortly thereafter, John Boye missed the frame despite being well positioned to give his side the lead while Gyan was once again denied by the Zambian goalkeeper.
Despite all the Black Stars’ pressure, they were made to pay for their wastefulness when Zambia took the lead in the 80th minute thanks to a wonderful curled effort from substitute Emmanuel Mayuka.
The opener set off a frenetic final 10 minutes in which Goran Stevanovic’s men pushed for an equaliser but had their chances dented by Derek Boateng being sent off.
Isaac Vorsah had a final chance for the west Africans but failed to convert and Zambia held on to reach their first Africa Cup of Nations final since the 1994 edition.