The home based Super Eagles of Nigeria on Wednesday got beaten a 10-man Ghana side 4-1 on penalties after playing a goaless draw at full time,and extra times. The Nigeria side which lost several scoring chances could not take the advantage even after Black Stars’ Kwabena Adusei was given the marching order in the 64th minute of play. An early minute injury to Ejike Uzoenyi created fear among Nigerians at the stadium as the medical team were quickly called into action to revive the prolific midfielder.
Both teams tried as much as they could to stamp their authority in the game but it was Nigeria’s Abubakar Ibrahim who had the first shot on target. Ibrahim’s 26th minute cracker hit the cross bar as Ghana’s goalkeeper Stephen Adams heaved a sigh of relief. The first half failed to produce any goal as the two sides failed to convert their goal sccoring opportunities. Nigeria dominated the early proceedings of the second half as the duo of Ifeanyi Ede and Abubakar Ibrahim made moves to put the Eagles ahead but had their attempts nipped in the bud.Coach Stephen Keshi brought on Bernabas Imenger to replace Ifeanyi Ede in his bid to make the one man advantage count. Rabiu Aliu was also substituted as Joshua Obaje made his first appearance in the tournament.
The Nigerian team fluffed their scoring chances as they searched for the curtain raiser which failed to happen until the Zambian referee signaled for the end of 90 minutes of a keenly contested battle. Joshua Obaje messed up the chance to put the Eagles on the ascendancy in the first half of exra time but his effort went over the bar.
The extra time failed to record any goal as the match went into penalty kicks. In the first semi-final, the Warriors of Zimbabwe will fight for a classification spot after they lost to Libya on penalties too. The gruelling encounter ended in a goaless draw after 120 minutes but the Libyans had the last laugh as the teams had to settle for penalty shootouts. The Zimbabweans have enjoyed a great support from their citizens in South Africa from the beginning of the tournament due to their proximity with the host country. A majority of South Africans backed their their fellow regional country but their tumultous support was not enough for the relentless and impressive Libyans.
Both teams are still in contention for a medal on Saturday in Cape Town, when the competition comes to an end.