Sports News of Sunday, 22 January 2017
Ghana coach Avram Grant has resolutely defended the edgy second-half performance of the Black Stars insisting their tough mental attitude is what has steered them to the quarter finals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
A solitary Asamoah Gyan goal was enough for Ghana to see off Mali 1-0 and book their place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals on Saturday.
The Black Stars captain handed his side the lead in the 21st minute when he headed home a Jordan Ayew cross and 2015’s losing finalists successfully held on for the remainder.
The second half performance of the site has attracted some criticism similar to their first match of the competition against Uganda but Grant insists the victories are paramount.
“In tournaments you play for the points. In the first half we went 1-0 ahead, we were dominating and we had chances to score even more goals,” said the Israeli.
“In the second half they had the ball more and we needed to fight for the second ball.
“In the first half we played good football, in the second half we played in my opinion mature football.”
Alain Giresse’s side improved after the break and could have restored parity in the 52nd minute via Moussa Marega, the attacker wildly blasting a shot over the crossbar from a difficult angle after some good work from Bakary Sako.
Mali pinned back Ghana in their own half as they went in search of an equaliser and Hamari Traore almost made it 1-1 with what would have been a contender for goal of the tournament, the left-back hammering a volley narrowly over the top-left corner from 25 yards.
Mali refused to give up and substitute Kalifa Coulibaly was next to threaten when he diverted Moussa Doumbia’s shot goalwards but goalkeeper Razak Brimah was on hand to deny him, before frustrating Sako deep into stoppage time as Ghana secured their spot in the last eight.