African Cup of Nations – Resolute Cameroon edge Ghana

EurosportThu, 07 Feb 19:52:00 2008

Cameroon reached the final of the African Cup of Nations after beating hosts Ghana 1-0 in a very tight semi-final at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra.

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The Black Stars dominated possession in the second half but couldn’t find a way through Cameroon’s spirited back line, allowing substitute Alain Nkong to clinch victory with a well-taken breakaway goal 20 minutes from time.

Otto Pfister’s men finished the game with 10 men, after Reading defender Andre Bikey was dismissed for nonsensically pushing over a medic in injury time.

Cameroon spurned a superb opportunity to take the lead after five minutes when the unmarked Eric Addo allowed Sulley Muntari‘s left-wing free-kick to bounce over him at the back post.

Ghana survived a nervous moment a few minutes later when goalkeeper Richard Kingson was flattened by a challenge from Samuel Eto’o as he sought to punch clear Alexandre Song‘s cross, but the referee’s whistle prevented Cameroon from capitalising.

Both sides struggled to find any kind of attacking tempo, but it was Ghana who looked the most threatening, and after half an hour Dede Ayew cut in from the left before sending in a low right-footed effort that forced Carlos Kameni into a save.

Despite Ghana’s territorial dominance it was Cameroon who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, when Geremi‘s wickedly struck 35-yard free-kick thumped against the junction of post and crossbar.

Ayew had a chance to put Ghana in front right on the stroke of half-time, but he had to stretch to reach Muntari’s cross and put his header over the bar.

The second period was a much more open affair than the first, and as it progressed Ghana began to take control.

With Haminu Dramani and Junior Agogo to the fore, Cameroon were increasingly reliant on Rigobert Song and his defensive colleagues for a series of last-ditch challenges and headed clearances.

John Pantsil put a free header wide after being picked out at the back post by Muntari’s right-wing corner, and Ayew saw a goalbound half-volley headed over the bar by Geremi.

A goal for the hosts seemed only a matter of time, but on 70 minutes Cameroon broke down the left and Nkong exchanged passes with Eto’o before racing away to tuck the ball past Kingson.

Stunned, Ghana threw men forward, and Agogo twice came close to hauling them level.

With 10 minutes remaining Kameni raced from his line to make an excellent, sprawling save from the Nottingham Forest man, and moments later he flashed a header over the bar from 12 yards after getting on the end of Muntari’s free-kick from the left.

As time ticked away Cameroon’s defending became increasingly frenetic, and in injury time Bikey was given his marching orders when he incomprehensibly pushed a medic who was treating his injured captain Rigobert Song.

But it proved to be the only blot on a superb evening for the Indomitable Lions, whose quest for a record-equalling fifth African Cup of Nations continues.

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