Attention now focused on the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo for the third of the four Quarter-Finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. It pitted a David versus Goliath scenario with lowly Guinea taking on giants of the continent, the Ghana Black Stars. Guinea had rode their luck in getting this far, benefiting from the drawing of lots to go through after finishing with an identical record to Mali with three 1-1 draws. That they were not expected to progress to the semi-finals was an understatement, Ghana finding their feet in the competition after a shaky start. An injury time winner by the enigmatic Asamoah Gyan against Algeria to secure victory had kick-started their campaign after a poor loss to Senegal in the opening game. Expectancy was now high for Avram Grant’s men, less so for The National Elephants of Guinea under the stewardship of Michael Dussuyer who handed Idrissa Sylla a first start in the competition as a lone striker.
But things could hardly have started worse for Guinea, falling behind within four minutes. With barely a touch of the ball, they found themselves chasing Ghanaian shadows as a great move down the left flank culminated with a neat back-hell from Andre Ayew reaching Christian Atsu who side-footed home with ease from six yards. The lead could have doubled only minutes later when Atsu turned provider but his cross was cleared from danger by Fode Camara, with Kwesi Appiah poised to score. The Crystal Palace striker, currently on loan with Cambridge United was not to be denied though when just before half-time he benefited from some defending of a level he will not have experienced even in the fourth tier of English football. The sliced clearance by Baissama Sankoh putting Appiah clean through on goal for his first international goal. Two nil at half-time was flattering to Guinea, who seemed overawed by the occasion and were second best all over the park.
The second half continued in the same vein, Ghana more than comfortable in possession and looking far from the team that opened the tournament against Senegal who seemed content to play long hopeful balls forward for Gyan to chase. There could be no denying the opposition on this occasion was weak, Guinea not able to properly trouble Razak in the Ghana goal until the 73rd minute when he was unable to hold on to a cross leaving Ibrahima Conte to blast high and wide, summing up Guinea’s evening. This was after the third and final goal of the game, Atsue getting his second with a moment of sheer quality, his strike from the right flank sailing over Yattara into the top corner. Wether it was a cross or a shot, only Atsu will know, but he will know but the Chelsea loanee, currently with Everton will be hoping Jose Mourinho saw that one, a goal to savour for the now fervent Black Star supporters. But the game was to be tarnished, late on in the game with the last actions of the game. Asamoah Gyan was sent through on goal by Ayew, with only Yattara to beat, the Guinea goal-keeper racing off his line and leaving his foot in on the Ghana captain with a horrific challenge. Referee Janny Sikazwe didn’t hesitate to brandish a deserved red card, a waiting game now in progress to see if Gyan will make the semi-final.
A sour note to end a great performance from Ghana who now take on Equatorial Guinea on the 5th of February for a place in the Africa Cup of Nations final. Guinea exit knowing they were outclassed by a better team on the day. Coach Michel Dussuyer falling on his sword making him the second managerial casualty of the competition after Senegal’s Alain Giresse.