The Black Meteors of Ghana have failed to secure automatic qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after losing 4-3 on penalties to Cote d’Ivoire in the semi-finals of the CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.
The Ivorians started on the front foot and pushed the Black Meteors into their defensive setup right from the start of the first half. The side looked sharper and exerted more energy as they continued to dominate play.
Just 13 minutes into the game, Youssouf Dao was presented with a glorious opportunity and made no mistake as he converted to give the Ivorians the lead. That together with the Ghanaian side’s inability to keep hold of possession showed how shambolic they played in the first half before going into the break.
An improvement in the play of the Black Meteors in the second half paid off just 5 minutes after recess with skipper Yaw Yeboah connecting to a sweet cut-back cross from Samuel Obeng to restore parity for his side.
With balance restored, both teams went on some good attacking runs in search of a goal that will see them winning at the end of the day. Cote d’Ivoire who was the dangerous side had the breakthrough on the 85th minute with striker Youssouf Dao scoring with a thumping header to complete his brace.
Ghana showed resilience and piled pressure on their opponent until they pulled level for the second time in the match. This time it was winger Evans Mensah who got on the scoresheet with striker Kwabena Owusu providing the assist.
The match eventually ended 2-2 with both teams heading into extra time to decide who advances into the finals.
There were no goals at the end of the 30 minutes but Cote d’Ivoire got the job done in the penalty shootout, beating Ghana 4-3 to ensure they progress into the finals of this year’s tournament.
What that means is that Ghana has missed out on securing automatic qualification to the next Olympic Games and will need to wait and win the 3rd place match in the U-23 AFCON to have any chance of qualifying.