Ivory Coast beat Ghana 3-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in extra time of the semifinals of Africa U-23 Nations Cup to secure qualification to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as hero Ira Tape Eliezer saves three Ghana penalty kicks.
Ibrahim Tanko maintained his eleven that defeated Mali 2-0 last Thursday at Cairo Stadium as Ghana had been pretty fluid with this set the last time they played Mali.
But Ivory Coast started the game well and broke the deadlock in the early stages of the game when Youssouf Dao run onto a deflected through pass, the Sparta Praha striker slotted the ball past Ghana’s Kwame Baah to give ivory Coast a deserving lead on the 13’ minute.
Ivory Coast dominated Ghana for close to 40 minutes, comfortably enjoying possession everywhere on the pitch, looking for the second goal but failed not as a result of Ghana’s resilience in defense but due to Ivory’s nonclinical upfront as Dao on few occasions missed empty nets.
Ivory Coast could have score more than a goal in the first half but were denied a penalty after Kwame Baah had fouled Ivory Coast player in Ghana box but the referee disallowed the penalty.
Ghana’s best chance fell the way of substitute Kwabena Owusu few minutes to the end of the first half, but Mali’s two goals hero went in for the outside netting instead, he had the chance to slide a pass for Samuel Obeng to tap in.
Ghana got the leveler six minutes inside the second half, skipper Yaw Yeboah connect home a perfect Sameul Obeng pass from the left edge of the box.
Ivory nearly restored their lead but Kwame Baah incurred a stunning save to deny the Ivorians a goal on the 58; minute mark.
Three minutes later, Koffi Sebastien Dakoi got the opportunity to put Ivory Coast ahead but his unmarked header missed the posts.
Dao restored Ivory Coast lead during the end of the second half, heading home Ismael Diallo perfect cross from the left flank to put Ivory Coast 2-1 ahead on 85’ minute before Evans Owusu sent a carpet shot inside the box to give Ghana the equalizer on 90+2.
In the extra time, both teams created decent chances to take the lead with Ivory Coast in particular looking the dangerous side in the second half of the extra. As a result, Dao who had troubled Ghana’s defense throughout the game nearly restored Ivory lead few minutes tto the end of the game but his shot was not strong enough to beat Kwame Baah.
In the resultant penalties, Ivory Coast won 3-2 with Ismael Diallo, Junior Hamed Traore and Franck Koffi Kouao converting their kicks for Ivory Coast. However, Aboubacar Keita’s kick was saved by Kwame Baah.
On the other hand, hero Ira Tape Eliezer saved the kicks of Cudjo, Evans Owusu and Kwabena Owusu before Emmanuel Lomotey and Samuel Obeng converted their kicks for Ghana.
Today’s win send Ivory Cast through to the finals of the Africa U-23 Nations Cup, and have claimed one of the three sluts to next summer’s Olympics Games in Tokyo.
Ghana would now have to contest the loser of the game between Egypt and South Africa who welcome each to Cairo International Stadium in the other semifinal game.