The Ghana Black Stars narrowly lost the return leg of the Chan 2016 qualifier to the local Elephants 1-0 in Abidjan on Friday, failing to progress to the finals. Ghana lost 1-0 to Cote D’Ivoire in the return leg of the 2016 African Nations Championship played in Abidjan on Friday.
The local Elephants claimed the Zone West B slot on away goal advantage after ending both ties on 2-2, with one goal scored in Kumasi during the first leg.
Both teams had different objectives coming into the game. The Black Stars were out to safeguard their slim 2-1 lead from the first leg while the hosts wanted to open the scoring as early as possible to brighten their chances of qualification.
However, neither side could create breaches in the opening exchanges, with Joel Fameyeh completely shut out in the Ivorian defence.
The first goal chance fell to the local Elephants, as Djobo Hermann’s incursion was cleverly stopped on the edge of Ghana defence, resulting in a close-range free kick, which floated to the side of goalkeeper Richard Ofori after 12 minutes.
Sangare Ibrahim created another opportunity for Cote D’Ivoire to the right side of Ghana box, but the follow up action was as poor as most of the action rolled out by the Ivorian side by the 20th minute.
The Elephants multiplied scary attempts by the half hour mark, with Ghana midfielders retreating to help the defence. Ainsoon Abeiku and Lartey Lawrence were able, in several occasions, cut out supplies destined for Djobo and Sangare.
After more attempts from both flanks, Cote D’Ivoire succeeded in opening the scoring, as Boua Koffi Davy was cheaply let loose to meander into the Stars’ defence before placing his last ditch effort to the left roof of Ofori’s post.
Ghana’s reaction was immediate, as Darkwah Daniel and Ashia Kennedy tried to open up spaces in the Ivorian area but the likes of Comara Cheick and Goua Marc made life difficult for the visitors.
Cote D’Ivoire captain Nguessan Yao Serge ran home with a loose ball and dropped deep into Ghana box unmarked but could not adjust his finish, which blew to the side of the post.
As at half time, Cote d’Ivoire were ahead at 1-0 and held the Zone West B ticket to the Chan 2016 finals on a 2-2 aggregate, with an away goal advantage.
Back from the break, the Ivorians began in a frenetic pace resulting in an awful collision between Tijani Joshua and Nguessan Yao, both of whom were booked by the Mauritanian referee Abderahamane Kelly.
Ghana coach Maxwell Konadu pulled off Mensah Baba and introduced Nuhu Fuseini into the fray, in a bid to speed up the pace, with his charges seemingly running out of solutions.
Sangare Ibrahim almost handed Cote d’Ivoire the double by the hour mark when he unleashed a 20-yards out strike that narrowly missed the target, with Ofori sprawling in vain, after an earlier blunder, when a ball leaked off his hold in the box.
Second-half entrant Fuseini had a clear cut chance near the Ivorian box, but after outpacing his marker, he blasted his effort wide.
The Ghana team were having a strong moment and on top of proceedings as the hosts showed signs of fatigue, prompting the substitution of Boua Davy for Zakri Yannick by the 71st minute.
With 15 minutes to fulltime, Cote d’Ivoire coach Michel Dussuyer made another substitution, bringing on Okpekon Marius for Aka Essis, as Ghana pressed forth, thanks to unrelenting push from new entrant Baffour Emmanuel.
Akowuah Malik replaced Ashia Kennedy in an attempt to sustain the Black Stars’ ascendancy, with less than 10 minutes more to play.
Cote d’Ivoire gradually found their footing after suffering Ghana domination for about 20 minutes and began to multiply cool action upfront.
The Elephants were able to hold on to their lone-goal lead until final whistle, thus qualifying to their second African Nations Championship tournament since they hosted the maiden edition in 2009.
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