The 26th edition of the African Cup of Nations is underway in Ghana with the hosts kicking off the colourful tournament with a tense 2-1 win against Guinea in Accra. The build-up to the match saw an unusual incident with the two teams’ officials clashing over training pitches due to an apparent lack of communications on the part of the local organising committee.
As far as the tournament is concerned, there are high hopes across Ghana for a strong showing by the home team and many consider anything less than a victory in the final on the 10th of February would be a failure. A colourful opening ceremony preceded the highly eventful match at the Ohene Djan Stadium in the presence of some leading figures, notably Ghanaian President John Kufuor, CAF chief Issa Hayatou, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini.
The match started in lightning fashion with chances galore in the opening ten minutes. Ghana hit the post three times in the first half and the home fans must have been thinking of the worst. Guinea’s occasional attack was giving Claude Le Roy’s Black Stars much to think about.
But the 40,000 odd fans breathed a sigh of relief when the referee Eddy Maillet awarded a spot kick to the home fans after Junior Agogo was taken down by Guinea’s Oumar Kalabane nine minutes into the second half. Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take the kick and made no mistake to give the men in white the lead. Credit goes to Guinea as Robert Nouzaret’s boys kept on the pressure and got their reward in the 63rd minute when Kalabane turned a hero from a villain when he rose to meet captain Pascal Feindouno’s corner to level things up.
The equaliser set up a tense finale with both sides going for long range efforts but Portsmouth’s Sulley Ali Muntari had the last laugh when his deadly 90th minute 20 yard long range shot gave the home side all three points and send the home fans into crazy celebrations.
Monday is a busy day in the Cup of Nations with Morocco and Namibia completing Group A fixtures in the day’s early kick off. Later in the day attentions would turn to a tough Group B with Mali taking on Benin and Nigeria clash against Ivory Coast in the most high-profile match of the day.