Ghana Wins 4th AFCON Title At The Expense Of Debutants, Uganda

Ghana Wins 4th AFCON Title At The Expense Of Debutants, Uganda

The quadruple has arrived. The Independence day package has arrived. Black Satellites put smiles to Ghanaians faces with a dominant victory to clinch trophy number four thus becoming the joint second most successful team in the competition history. The feat which is only matched by Egypt and bettered by West African neighbours, Nigeria has taken 12 years to arrive.

Twelve years ago in Stade Amahoro in Kigali, Ransford Osei’s 22nd and 86th minute strikes were what powered the Andre Ayew led Satellites past Cameroon to make a hattrick of AFCON success at the youth level. It was then called African Youth Championship, AYC. It was a victory that led them to a bigger one in Egypt months later when they conquered the world after beating Brazil on penalties to become Africa’s first and only world champions at that level.

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It is 2021 and as the world still struggle with COVID-19, it is captain Daniel Barnieh who took matters into his own hands to score his first goals of the tournament in the most important match of the tournament. He tried to emulate Ransford Osei and netted in the 22nd minute but he wanted things done early so he decided to end the hopes of the gallant debuting Hippos early by doing his double in the 51st minute, 35 minutes faster than Ransford Osei in 2009. There however won’t be World Cup to claim this time around after FIFA cancelled this year’s event as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Daniel Barnieh celebrates one of his two goals against Uganda in the U-20 AFCON final
Daniel Barnieh celebrates one of his two goals against Uganda in the U-20 AFCON final with a team mate.

The match started with Uganda taking it straight to the Satellites, earning two free kicks in 2 minutes. The Satellites however did not panic but relaxed and gained their composure to tackle the marauding Ugandan attackers. The Satellites not crumpling under pressure in the opening minutes is a testament of how Coach Karim Zito has fashioned his boys out to be men in boys.

It was long coming when the Satellites were pressing forward, creating set piece opportunities and it was one such set pieces that Daniel Barnieh sneaked in to connect with an outstretched foot to Abdul Fatawu Issahaku’s corner. Derrick Kakooza almost equalized five minutes later after creating space for himself to shoot from outside the box which narrowly sailed over the bar. Barnieh had another strong attempt in the 30th minute but was not fortunate to turn it straight into the hands of Jack Komakech in post for Uganda who got down well to make the stop. Aziz Abdu Kayondo’s free kick a few metres outside the box had Danlad Ibrahim making a clever stop to deny the Hippos any chance of pulling parity.

The first half ended with Ghana still holding to their lone goal lead. Soon after recess, the Satellites took off from where they left off, piling pressure which resulted in the second goal after Percious Boah straight-line cross across the face of the Ugandan goal evaded three defenders in the Ugandan box allowing Barnieh to score his second of the day which eventually sealed the victory for the Satellites.

Uganda threatened in the 58th minute when Steven Sserwadda evaded the Ghanaian defense to connect to Ramathan Musa’s free kick which he unfortunately could not keep low thus heading it over and forcing a reaction from Danlad Ibrahim cautioning his defensive line.

Percious Boah (left) and Ramathan Musa (Uganda) challenge for the ball
Percious Boah of Ghana (left) and Ramathan Musa (Uganda) challenge for the ball

Danlad Ibrahim had to stay alert with superlative saves to prevent the Ugandans from breaching the Satellites defense getting into the final 20 minutes. He however almost gifted the Ugandans a goal in the 71st minute with a huge blunder after he went off his line to catch a Ugandan free kick. Emmanuel Essiam was right there at the right place to clear the ball away from crossing the line which would have given Uganda any hope of a comeback. Danlad was again alert to punch away an 88th minute Uganda free kick.

Late pressure from the Ugandans could not even result in a consolation as the Satellites held on to close the match 2 – 0 to lift the trophy for the 4th time in their history. They have now equaled Egypt’s trophy haul of four and thus become the joint second most successful team in the competition history.

As for Uganda, they performed beyond expectations and Bekyewaso would be proud of the achievement of his boys who he anticipates to form the core of the next generation of the Cranes team.

Karim Zito promised a trophy to celebrate Ghana’s 64th Independence anniversary and he has delivered. Congratulations Karim. Congratulations Satellites. Happy Independence to all Ghanaians.

By Clifford Adumbire | myactiveonline.com Twitter @adumbirec and @activetvgh

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