On Saturday evening the Stade de Port-Gentil played host tothe Afcon's Group D. In the final double header of the group stage, Ghana took on Mali whilst Egypt faced a stubborn Uganda. The Ghanaians went into the game knowing that a win would be enough to secure their passage into the next round.
The opening game of the evening saw a tentative start before Ghana took control with Mali happy to sit back and soak up the pressure. Andre Ayew missed a sitter but only a few minutes later the Black Stars were ahead through Asamoah Gyan. The former Sunderland striker scored a beautiful header after great work on the wing from Jordan Ayew. Christian Atsu was arguably Ghana’s most dangerous player as the Newcastle United loanee gave the Malian defence a torrid time with his trickery. Ghana were playing with a swagger and would have been disappointed to go into the break only one goal to the good.
The second half resumed and with just 5 minutes played Mali forward Moussa Marega should have got his team level. However, Portuguese-based player headed the ball straight at the Ghanaian goalkeeper. The Eagles continued to press but the Ghanaian defence remained resolute. The match went through a dry period where chances came few and far between. In the 79th minute though, Mali managed to carve out a rare chance but Khalifa Coulibaly could only head across the face of goal. The Gent man had one final chance in the 90th minute but his shot was superbly saved by Ghana’s Spanish-based goalkeeper Razak Brimah. The final whistle blew and Ghana celebrated qualification into the quarter finals.
The final game of the night began with both Egypt and Uganda fully aware of the need of a result after Ghana’s earlier victory. The match was an even affair from the get go. The only significant chance of the first half fell to Mohamed Salah but the dynamic winger saw his shot fly across the face of the goal. Overall, it was a lacklustre first half as both teams lacked creativity in the final third and it was no surprise when the first half ended goalless.
Ghana’s talisman Asamoah Gyan
The crowd at the Stade de Port-Gentil hoped for a livelier second half as both teams returned to the field. In the 50th minute Ugandan Joseph Ochaya thought he had scored only for it to be flagged for offside. With 20 minutes to go Egyptian Mahmoud Hassan, better known as Trezeguet, swerved through the Cranes defence only for his tame effort to be easily saved by goalkeeper Denis Onyango. The match looked like it would end goalless before Abdallah El Said broke Ugandan hearts in the 88th minute. The Al Ahly midfielder powered home an effort that rocketed through the Ugandan goalkeeper’s legs and dashed the East African nation’s hopes.