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U23 Championship: Ghana knocked out; 15 year Olympic Games drought still at stake?

After a pulsating 2-2 drawn game at the Cairo International Stadium, the Young Elephants have finally succeeded in eliminating Ghana from the ongoing Africa U-23 Championship after beating them 3-2 via penalty shootouts.

The Ivorians become the first African country to book their slot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Again, they are into the final of the Africa U-23 Nation’s Cup as they await the winner of the game between Egypt and South Africa which comes up in few minutes.

Yossouf Dao got the opener for the Ivorians as early as 13 minutes from the commencement of the game. The same Dao had another glorious opportunity to make it 2-0 but his effort couldn’t reach his target.

The Ivorians really dominated the first half despite taking the lead, they created series of decent chances but were just unlucky. Another build up resulted into bringing Cheick down in the box by goalkeeper Kwame Baah but the referee overlooked that incident.

Quick response from Coach Ibrahim Tanko and his charges got them back on level terms after equalising few minutes after coming from the break. Samuel Obeng controlled a pass from the left, pulled the ball out for his captain, Yaw Yeboah to connect into the net.

On the 85th minute, the Ivorians registered their second of the day. Who else! Youssouf Dao with a flying header from Silas Gnaka’s brilliant cross from the left. Just on the stroke of full time, when many thought the game was heading to an end, Kwabena Owusu raced his way through the Ivorian back line, he was brought down in the box. No penalty call for him, he forced to tap to Evans Mensah who plotted into the net to make it 2-2.

It finished 2-2 after regulation time, game travelled to extra time. Frank Arhin’s decent pass falls on Evans Mensah but his effort went wide. The Ivorians also caused another scare but Dao’s low drive was collected easily by the Ghana goalie.

After extra time, the game moved straight into penalty shootouts to decide the winner. The Young Elephants won 3-2 at the end.

Not over for the Black Meteors though, they have another chance in the 3rd place game to grab an Olympic Game ticket. They await the loser of the Egypt-South Africa game.

By: Iddriss Abdul Rahim

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