General News of Thursday, 5 February 2015
So much live-wire pace in the Equatorial Guinea front line. Balboa, Iban Edu and Nsue are all quick off the mark, while Kike has also provided some industry down the right.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA FURY! Ghana play themselves into trouble as Mubarak sells himself short with a poor first touch. Iban Edu races in to pick his pocket, but the referee unfairly whistles for the foul! That was an excellent tackle and Mubarak is a lucky boy to be bailed out by the whistle.
Ovono is never slow in coming off his line, and he needs to do so to meet Atsu at the edge of the area, who was primed to run onto an Appiah pass. Good decision again from the Equatorial Guinea keeper.
Balboa flights a free kick towards the near post which is agonizingly just too far ahead of Nsue, who was primed to attack it inside the area. With Balboa in the side, the National Thunder will always threaten from set pieces.
Ghana’s attacking has looked a little disjointed recently, with a few offsides leaving Grant frustrated on the touchline. Equatorial Guinea have had the better of the opening exchanges.
Kike tries to con the referee into giving up a free kick on the edge of the box, but there’s no charity from the official. A great back-and-forth tempo developing to the match here!
On the very next play, Andre Ayew is freed down the left side of the box, but he can’t squeeze his shot past the intimidating figure of Mbele. What a great recovery challenge by the defender!
BIG CHANCE! Kike races down the right and hooks a dangerous cross that sees Nsue slip while trying to make contact. The ball breaks for Balboa inside the area, but his acrobatic half-volley is well off the mark.
The National Thunder are then on the attack through Belima, but despite advancing into a good position down the left, he produces something which is neither a shot nor a cross, and goes off target.
Ghana need to improve on their set-piece deliveries as they’ve been awarded a fair number of free kicks in the opening minutes. Equatorial Guinea have been too comfortable in those scenarios.
Incredible atmosphere to start here at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo. Ovono already has to show command of his area to punch away a free kick that was lifted towards a Ghana head.
Here we go!
Esteban Becker makes three changes from his side’s quarter-final win over Tunisia. Raul Fabiani was hugely ineffective in that game and has been replaced by potential wild card Iban Salvador up front. Randy also sits out as Belima takes his place, while Dani Evuy has come in for Sipo.
There’s only one change for Ghana but it’s an enforced one. Despite a last-minute scramble to recover, Asamoah Gyan’s hip injury has indeed ruled him out of this game, with Jordan Ayew coming on in his place. Kwesi Appiah will lead the line for the Black Stars.
Equatorial Guinea (4-4-2): Ovono; Evuy, Mbele, Rui, Belima; Seno, Zarandona, Doualla, Balboa; Salvador, Nsue.
Ghana (4-2-3-1): Brimah; Afful, Boye, Mensah, Baba; Acquah, Mubarak; Atsu, Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew; Appiah.
Today marks the first-ever meeting between these two countries, who are separated by 700 miles of the Gulf of Guinea. Tonight’s clash at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo is the first time that the tournament hosts have played at this ground in this edition of the AFCON, although Ghana are familiar with these surroundings having beaten Guinea here four days ago.
Four-time winners Ghana went through no such troubles to book their place in the final four. The Black Stars comfortably dispatched Guinea 3-0, and are looking to reach ther first AFCON showpiece since 2010. Ghana have made the semi-finals 12 times – including each of the last four editions – but have not lifted the trophy since 1982.
Equatorial Guinea have reached these lofty heights for the first time in their history. The tournament hosts are here thanks to an unforgettably controversial quarter-final against Tunisia, which saw referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn banned for six months after a slew of baffling decisions – including the stoppage-time penalty for Equatorial Guinea that sent the tie into extra time.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the AFCON semi-final battle between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea. A clash against Cote d’Ivoire awaits the victor. I’m Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.