Ghana’s talisman Asamoah Gyan leads the way into Afcon quarter finals

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The Black Stars endured another high-pressure second half in their narrow victory over Mali by the lone goal to secure early passage into the knockout

Ghana confirmed their place in the knockout stages with a slim 1-0 victory against Mali in Port Gentil on Saturday evening. Their captain Asamoah Gyan made the difference with a header that beat Oumar Sissoko in the Mali goal on 21 minutes.

The veteran striker got onto the end of a Jordan Ayew cross to send his team into the quarter finals with one game to spare and lots of confidence ahead of their final clash with seven-time champions Egypt next week.

The Al Ain man has not been short of confidence in this tournament after winning the penalty that sent his side up during their opening game against Uganda. It shows just how much his influence has been missing in the team since injury kept him out of recent World Cup qualifiers where Ghana failed to score against both Uganda and Egypt last year.

The 31-year-old has now become the highest scoring Ghanaian at the Africa Cup of Nations with this his eighth goal since making his debut in 2008.

Asamoah Gyan

While there was increased pressure from the game-chasing Malians in the second half, coach Avram Grant opted to once again shore up his midfield by taking off Gyan and Ayew with Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Afriyie Acquah as their replacements.

The Malians shaved possession and found some chances of their own but goalkeeper Razak Brimah was well placed to thwart a late attempt from Moussa Marega.

The Malians seem to consistently have a better second half and this was underlined by the introduction of Yves Bissouma into the fray after the interval by coach Alain Giresse.

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But Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey had a good game where he made key interceptions and denied the Malians more space in the middle of the park.

The Black Stars can now rest some of their leading men ahead of the game with Egypt as they prepare for the crucial stages of the competition.

Ghana have not won the Afcon since 1982, a 35-year long wait that they will hope comes to an end next month in Libreville. The in-form Gyan will have a lot to say about that.

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