World Cup Qualifier: Ghana Holds Nigeria In Kumasi

by Chidi Nwoke, Abuja.

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria were held to a 0-0 draw against Ghana during the first leg tie of their World Cup qualification playoff match at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.

Nigeria and Ghana took a cautious approach to the match as the tense encounter ended goalless. Despite having more possession, Ghana couldn’t break Nigeria’s resilient defence.

Nigeria takes the advantage as the second leg will be played on Tuesday, at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja. However, a goal for Ghana in Abuja would put pressure on Nigeria with the away goal rule still being used in this qualification process.

PREVIEW

The Super Eagles of Nigeria faces off against Ghana in the first leg of their 2022 FIFA World Cup playoff will a spot in Qatar at stake at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Friday.

The match at the Baba Yara Stadium promised to be a thrilling encounter because of the rivalry between the West African countries. This will be the fifth time the two nations will play each other in a World Cup qualifier.

In their most recent world Cup qualifying meeting in 2002, Ghana played out a 0-0 draw at home, before the Super Eagles put three past their visitors in the return leg. The tension associated with the matches between the West African heavyweights has never been higher, as both pride and bragging rights will be at stake.

 

The Super Eagles have been boosted by the return of striker Victor Osimhen of Napoli to the starting lineup, supported by Samuel Chukwueze and Moses Simon.

Super Eagles lineup shows that Coach Augustine Eguavoen has gone with FC Lorient’s Innocent Bonke as the replacement for the injured Wilfred Ndidi in midfield, alongside Joe Aribo. Bonke will be winning his third cap for the Super Eagles in the highly anticipated match.

 

Coach Eguavoen has thrown his confidence behind most of the starters from the last AFCON tournament. Another change is in goal where Francis Uzoho replaces the ill Maduka Okoye. Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will play behind the in-form Victor Osimhen.

The Super Eagles will be looking to earn a seventh FIFA World Cup finals appearance when they trade tackles with the Black Stars of Ghana at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.

The Black Stars of Ghana

AS Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan, Fulham defender Denis Odoi and Hearts of Oak ace Dennis Korsah have been handed their debut call-ups. But the Black Stars will miss captain Andre Ayew who is suspended, while Rennes talented winger Kamaldeen Sulemana is absent from the squad because of injury.

Jordan Ayew lines up with 18-year old Fatawa in attack.

Ghana will be looking to return to the World Cup after failing to reach the 2018 finals in Russia. The Black stars last appearance was at the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

HEAD TO HEAD

Ghana have the head-to-head advantage over the Super Eagles, having won 25 of their 56 previous clashes with 19 ending in draws.  However, the Super Eagles will be counting on their current form to give them the leverage over the Black Stars.

Nigeria have won three of their past five matches and drawn one with the other ending in a defeat, while their opponent on Friday lost three games, drew one and won one. The match will most likely be won by the most determined team on Friday night as matches between the two West African giants know no form guide.

With Nigeria and Ghana’s unimpressive outing at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the two countries will be keen on winning back the support of their fans by qualifying for Qatar to banish the disappointment of last month’s tournament in Cameroon.

KICK OFF!!

2′    Corner for Ghana in the second minute. Its hit long and the Nigerian defender clears.

4′    Every Ghanaian attack is greeted with cheers from the home fans.

6′    A nervous start from Nigeria as Ghana mounts pressure on their visitors in the opening minutes. 

10′ With Ghana’s slight advantage in terms of possession, they are yet to create a clear-cut chance.

Super Eagles supporters cheering at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.

13′  Moses Simon does well for Nigeria as he dribbles past two defenders but unabale to find Osimhen.

15′  A nervy start to match from both sides. Balogun makes a vital challenge to stop Ghana’s attack.

18′  Aina escapes a card after a late challenge on Ayew.

21′  Felix Afena-Gyan breaks into the box and sees his shot deflected as Nigeria defends well.

23′  Ayew fires the ball in from the left, but no Ghanaian player available to receive the pass as the goalkeeper gathers the ball.

28′  Mensah fires a shot but the ball is deflected wide for a corner as Ghana wins their second of the night.

31′  Ghana still enjoying the better of the first half. Osimhen receives treatment after being caught on his ankle.

33′  Issahaku almost opens the scoring with a fierce shot that is saved by goalkeeper Uzoho. That was the best chance of the night.

37′  Striker Osimhen wins Nigeria’s first corner kick of the night. Simon takes the kick and finds Osimhen, but goalkeeper Wallacott saves.

40′ Osimhen shoots from the edge of the box and appeals for a handball. The referee is unimpressed and play continues.

42′  Aribo breaks into the box, but scoops his attempt over the bar. The Nigerians are gradually growing into the game.

45′  We are into added time in Kumasi and it’s been a tight affair. The fourth official signals two minutes of added time.

45 +2′  The referee blows the halftime whistle.

It has been a tense encounter so far as the score remains 0-0. Super Eagles coach Eguavoen would be happy with the scoreline so far. However, Ghana would be hoping to take a positive scoreline to take to Nigeria next Tuesday.

HALFTIME: Ghana 0-0 Nigeria

The teams return to the pitch for the second half.

SECOND HALF

47′  Ghana gets an early corner as they immediately put pressure on Nigeria.

49′  Both sides seem to be adopting a similar approach to the game as in the first half. The hosts win another corner kick.

56′  Moses Simon creates Nigeria’s best chance after a firing off a shot, but the Ghanaian goalkeeper stood his ground well and cleared with his feet.

59′  Kelechi Iheanacho has been stretchered off  and is getting medical treatment.

60′  Substitution for the Super Eagles as Moses Simon and Joe Aribo are replaced by Emmanuel Dennis and Frank Onyeka respectively.

62′  The referee give Ghana’s Alexander Djiku a yellow card for handling as he was under pressure from Osimhen. It is the first booking of the night.

68′  Onyeka gets clipped just outside the box for a freekick. Iheanacho steps up and his strike is deflected behind for a corner.

73′  Substitution for Nigeria as Oghenekaro Etebo replaces Bonke innocent. Calvin Bassey comes on for Zaidu Sanusi.

75′  PENALTY!!!! The referee awards a penalty to Nigeria for a handball against Ghana’s Iddrisu Baba in the box.

Handball incident

The referee consults VAR and the decision gets over turned.

Etebo gets carded for his protests.

Referee consults VAR

79′   Substitution for Ghana, Osman Bukari replaces Issahaku Abdul Fatawu.

82′  Another substitution for Ghana as Daniel-Kofi Kyereh replaces Felix Afena-Gyan.

85′  Ghana playing with more confidence now, but it looks like a goal for either side this evening would settle the encounter.

89′   As we approach the closing minutes in Kumasi, could there be a late twist in the match?

90′   The fourth official indicates four minutes of added time.

90+4′ The referee blows the full time whistle as Ghana holds the Super Eagles of Nigeria to a 0-0 draw in Kumasi.

 

 

 

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