The Black Stars B got off to a winning start in the 2017 WAFU Cup as they beat Gambia 1-0 at the Cape Coast Stadium today [Saturday, September 9, 2017].
Ghana, who beat Gambia 4-1 in the opening game of the 2013 edition of the WAFU Cup were heavily tipped to trample over the Scorpions but needed a 95th minute Vincent Atinga penalty to scrape through.
Ghana started the game nervously as Gambia pressed them in their half in a bid to get an early opener.
The vociferous Ghanaian fans thought they had taken the lead in the 5th minute when Kwame Kizito connected to Felix Addo’s cross, however, the goal was disallowed by referee Ouedraogo Boukari due to a push on Gambian defender Brimah Sidibe.
Ghana were forced into an early substitution as Hearts towering defender Vincent Atinga replaced Musah Nuhu, who failed to recover from a knee knock.
The Black Stars kept possession very well but lacked the cutting edge to break the deadlock as Gambia put more men behind the ball.
In the 35th minute, goalkeeper Joseph Addo pulled off a reflexive save as he palmed away Pape Omar Jobe’s low shot.
Kwame Kizito should have put Ghana in the lead in the 40th minute from Amos Frimpong’s perfectly placed cross but his thumping header flew over the cross bar.
Just a minute after Kizito’s miss, Felix Addo was put through by Gideon Waja against goalkeeper Jobe but he failed to hit the target as his fierce shot went over the bar.
Ghana continued from where they left off in the first stanza as they attacked the Scorpions, with defender Samuel Sarfo going close to breaking the deadlock from a 25-yard shot.
Coach Maxwell Konadu made his intentions clear as the going got tough with the introduction of Hearts of Oak diminutive attacker Patrick Razak in place of Gideon Waja in the 56th minute.
The Black Stars went close to opening the scoring in the 59th minute as Isaac Twum’s lofty free kick rattled the cross bar.
Gambia deep in their half, but Thomas Abbey nearly made them pay but his shot miscued.
Gambia made two quick substitutions as they replaced Touray for Sanney and Jarju for Silla in the 71st minute.
Striker Stephen Sarfo replaced Kizito in the 76th minute as coach Konadu continued to exploit the weakness of the Scorpions defensive set up.
Defensive mishap nearly handed Gambia the lead in the 81st minute but Amos Frimpong recovered to clear the ball out of danger.
Ghana yet again went close to opening the scoring as substitute striker Sarfo’s overhead kick flew just over the bar before failing to tap into an empty net Emmanuel Lomotey’s pass second later.
Just as the game looked to be heading for the shoot outs, Ghana were awarded a penalty after referee Boukari adjudged Thomas Abbey’s shot to have hit the arm of Sanney, which Vincent Atinga expertly put away to win the game for Black Stars.
Ghana will play the winner of the game between Mali and Mauritania.