Black Stars Beat Niger
Two goals from silver striker Emmanuel Osei Banahene was all Ghana needed yesterday to overcome Niger in the qualifiers for the maiden edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), a competition created by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for players who ply their trade in local leagues.
The Black Stars beat Niger 2-1 in far away Niamey to qualify on a 4-1 aggregate.
Osei Banahene, the Heart of Lions striker, who tormented the defence of the Nigeriens, grabbed a brace in each half to set a date with the Hawks of Togo. Benin apparently withdrew from the competition to facilitate Togo's qualification.
The local Black Stars, who were by far the better side, played more as a team, with Banahene, who partnered Eric Bekoe upfront, putting Ghana in the lead two minutes into injury time of the first half.
He again scored in the 20th minute of the second half when he latched onto a neat pass from skipper Edmund Owusu Ansah and released a shot that went past the Nigerien keeper.
Ghana dominated the midfield in the first half with some occasional play upfront in search of the opener.
Asante Kotoko's Jordan Opoku and Akwafo, who played in midfield alongside skipper Owusu Ansah, were stronger than their counterparts, creating anxious moments for the Nigeriens.
Their creative style of play also made things easier for the attackers that comprised Bekoe, Banahene and Emmanuel Agyemang Badu.
Ghana showed its dominance in the second half with 15-year-old Tawrick Jibril and Dominic Adiyah who came on for Opoku and Akwafo, adding more bite into the Stars' play; a situation which forced the Nigeriens to chase shadows.
However in the 82nd minute, Haminu Djibo got a consolation goal for the Nigeriens.
Afterwards Ghana almost increased the tally in the dying embers of the game, but a shot at goal went off the crossbar, much to the relief of the home fans.
The local Black Stars are now two games away from reaching the finals of the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN).
Ivory Coast will host the maiden edition of the competition from the 22nd of February to the 8th of March 2009.
Ghana's Line Up: Fatau Dauda, Nii Addy, Harrison Afful, John Boye, Hanin Giwa, Edmund Owusu-Ansah, Jordan Opoku/Tawrick Jibril, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Francis Akwafo/ Dominic Adiyah, Emmanuel Banahene, Eric Bekoe/ Baba Iddi
Subs: Joseph Addo, Richard Manu, Ekow Benson, Ebow Andoh.
By Charles Nixon Yeboah