The stage was set at the Stade de Franceville for what promised to be a mouth-watering encounter. A young and talented Cameroon were taking on Ghana in a game that saw two giants of African football fight for the right to take on Egypt in the final.
The first half started tentatively with Cameroon content to sit back and soak up the pressure. The Black Stars, for all of the possession they had in the opening minutes, had nothing to show for it. Then, against the run of play, Cameroon almost grabbed the opener but Adolphe Teikeu’s header was cleared off the line by Columbus Crew defender Harrison Afful.
The Indomitable Lions continued to pressure the Ghana defence and Benjamin Moukandjo found himself unmarked in the box. However, the FC Lorient forward could only shoot straight at Razak Brimah in the Ghanaian goal. As the half progressed the match became a tighter affair and it was only in the 40th minute that Ghanaian Jordan Ayew found himself in space in the box. Swansea City’s newest signing saw his effort from an acute angle whistle past the far post.
The second half offered more of the same as both teams tried to assert their dominance in a high tempo affair that thrilled the noisy Franceville crowd. On the hour mark Mubarak Wakaso brought out the first meaningful save of the half but Cameroonian keeper Fabrice Ondoa was equal to the Ghanaian’s curling free kick.
In the 72nd minute the Indomitable Lions broke the deadlock after some dreadful defending at the back post allowed Micheal Ngadeu-Ngadjui to control the ball and steer it home from an acute angle. Ghana coach Avram Grant responded by throwing on talisman Asamoah Gyan as he hoped to salvage the game.
The 2015 Afcon runners-up threw everything at Hugo Broos’ men but the Cameroonian defence remained resolute. In stoppage time, Cameroon sealed their place in the final. In desperation Ghana had committed too many players forward in search of the equaliser and were duly caught out on the break as Christian Bassogog finished superbly past a despairing Brimah.
The goal dashed any hopes of reaching the final for Ghana and the final whistle followed shortly thereafter meaning a young, unfancied Cameroon side had reached the final. They will now take on Egypt in Libreville on Sunday in a repeat of the Afcon 2008 final. Ghana meanwhile, will have to regroup quickly for their 3rd Place final in Port-Gentil against Burkino Faso on Saturday.