Ghana ended Mali’s hopes of reaching the 2013 Orange CAF U-20 Championship final handing the fellow West Africans a 4-2 defeat on post-match penalties after the semi-final match had ended at 0-0 at Ahmed Zabana Stadium in Oran on Tuesday.
Ghana scored their penalties through, Jeremiah Arkorful, Attama Joseph, Lawrence Lartey and Richmond Nketiah with only Francis Narh missing. Mali scored their spot kicks from Diallo Samba, and Abdoulaye Keita with Adama Niane, and Adama Mariko missing
The Eaglets were dominant, dictating the pace of the game and had fellow West Africans Ghana playing second fiddle throughout the match.
The Eaglets got the first chance on goal and Adama Niane beat the defenders and goalkeeper Antwi Ofori but could not direct his header on target. Ghana found their usual flowing football restricted and the space in midfield denied as Mali dominated the early exchanges
On 24th minute Diallo Samba unleashed his trademark drive from outside and Ofori diving save gave away a corner from which Ousmane Keita headed just wide. Mali went close again when Adama Mariko headed into the keeper’s arms after some god pass exchanges involving Hamidou Traore, Samba and Niane had carved open the Ghanaian defense.
Ghanaian defence was working overtime and grateful for captain Lawrence Lartey‘s quick mind and feet that came to the rescue on several times. But on 30th minute Ghana’s top goal scorer Ebenezer Assifuah who had been kept pretty quiet by the Malians escaped from Boubacar Diarra’s attention at the back post only to see his header saved by Ali Yirangio in goal for Mali. Ghana was good in patches in a first half bossed by Mali in virtually all departments.
Upon resumption it was Mali who had he first sniff of goal again with Issaka Samake centimeters wide with his free kick from the left flank. Moments later Diallo could only blaze his effort over the cross bar from a cross by Mahamadou Traore as Mali started the second half as they had ended the first- in control and the side more likely to break the deadlock
On 75th minute Niane picked up a cut back inside the box but fell down as he tried to turn and shoot and another chance went begging. Not long after Hamidou Traore unleashed a ferocious free-kick that beat the wall, the keeper but not the cross bar and Ghana survived again.
The regulation period ended in a goalless draw. It was a tale of tied limps and numerous free- kicks as the game went into extra time
The Black Satellites will play Egypt in the finals on Saturday.