Ghana defeated The Gambia in the opening game of the 2017 Wafu Cup of Nations courtesy a late penalty Saturday.
The encounter, played at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, was the first of eight knockout games of the 16-team competition.
Ghana struggled to find the back of the net in regulation time despite creating many scoring opportunities.
But deep into five minutes additional time, the Black Stars were rewarded a penalty following a scramble in The Gambia’s 18-yeard-box. A shot from Thomas Abbey was adjudged to have struck the arm of defender Matarr Ceesay.
The Gambia heavily protested the decision before calm was restored for centre-back Vincent Atingah to step up and put the ball at the blind side of the Scorpions goalkeeper.
Opening half of missed opportunities
Ghana thought they had taken the lead in the fifth minute when Kwame Kizito found the back of the net, but his goal was not given after being adjudged to have pushed a Gambian defender in the process.
The Black Stars suffered a bit of a set-back three minutes later when centre-back Nuhu Musah had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Vincent Atingah.
Ghana had a chance to take the lead in the 20th minute when a goalmouth scramble inside the box fell to Emmanuel Lomotey, but he volleyed wide from 16-yards out.
The best chance of the half fell to Kwame Kizito in the 38th minute when he met a low cross from the right by Amos Frimpong, but the striker fired over the target from close range.
A minute later Felix Addo used his impressive skill to break through the Gambian defence, but shot wide from just inside the box with only the keeper to beat.
The second half continued with the same pattern as Ghana dictated terms and almost scored six minutes after the restart, but Samuel Sarfo’s stinging shot from distance skimmed the wrong side of the post.
In the 62nd minute the Black Stars came bitterly close to taking the lead once again, but were left disappointed when a 25-yard free-kick from Isaac Twum struck the crossbar.
Gambia offered very little in attack throughout the game, but came close to scoring in the 81st minute when Omar Jobe broke into the box from the right, but saw his powerful 16-yard shot well-saved by the Ghanaian keeper.
Ghana threw men forward in the final ten minutes and were awarded a chance to win the game in the 95th minute when the referee adjudged Gambian Matarr Ceesay to have handled the ball inside the box.
Vincent Adaeh Antigah stepped-up and made no mistake from the penalty-spot to hand Ghana a 1-0 win on the day.
The 1-0 victory for Ghana means coach Maxwell Konadu have cemented their place in Group A awaiting the winners of the upcoming knockout games:
Mali vs Mauritania; Nigeria vs Sierra Leone and Guinea vs Guinea Bissau
Ghana: 1. Joseph Addo – 2. Amos Frimpong, 3. Nuhu Musah (5. Vincent Atingah 9’), 4. Emmanuel Ampiah, 6. Thomas Abbey, 7. Isaac Twum, 8. Gideon Waja (17. Patrick Razak 56’), 9. Felix. Addo, 12. Samuel Sarfo, 13. Kwame Kizito (15. Stephen Sarfo 77’), 18. Emmanuel Lomotey.
Gambia: 1. M. Jobe – 4. Sanneh (13. Conteh 72’), 5. Faye, 6. Kurubally, 8. Ceesay, 10. P. Jobe, 12. Jammeh, 14. Mendy, 15. Sidibeh, 16. Bojang, 17. Sillah (9. Yankuba 75’).