Sports News of Wednesday, 19 March 2014
A late first half goal from Gladys Amfobea saw Ghana claim all three points from another performance built on solid defending and ruthless efficiency in front of goal.
The Black Maidens were totally dominated in the first half but made the most of their productive spell of the game to claim the goal that gave them the win. The Ghanaians went on to produce another defensive display bordering on the heroic to see out the result and claim a record 8th clean sheet at the tournament.
The game started quite well for both sides with the Ghanaians looking much more comfortable on the ball than in the opening minutes of their first match. Although the Germans looked more menacing in possession, the Ghanaians looked to release Janet Ayieyam with the ball over the top at every opportunity, though German central defender Karl managed to keep the ball from the forward at any given time.
The game almost took a turn for the worst for the Maidens in the 10th minute when referee Pannipar Kemnueng from Thailand mistakenly produced a red card for Abambila after a challenge on the edge of the box; the official though was quick to correct her mistake allowing Ghanaians' hearts to calm down. The resulting free kick saw Azume Adams in post tested for the first time in the game. Despite the Germans looking the better side and creating the better chances, it took 15 more minutes before Adams was called to duty with the goalkeeper having to produce a magnificent save to prevent a goal from a well-delivered set piece.
The Ghanaians' best spell of the half started in the 35th minute as a good bit of pressing from Ayieyam won possession back for the Maidens but only managed to win a corner for her efforts. From the resulting corner, Niber-Lawrence found herself with possession, three yards from the goal line with her back to goal but after a neat bit of control the winger failed to get the ball around Brandt who made her presence felt.
A few minutes later Brandt was called back into action and an audacious effort from Amfobea almost looped into the net. The stopper was not done yet though as a great bit of play from Sandra Owusu Ansah set up Ayieyam in the box and with the striker’s effort on target Brandt was called to duty again. Relentless pressing from Ayieyam won her a free kick near the touchline and from the resulting free kick substitute Adobea found the head of Amfobea whose header managed to evade Brandt to hand the Ghanaians the lead.
A few minutes later Amfobea noticed the keeper off her line and tried to get the ball over her with her effort narrowly missing the target and landing on the roof of the net. That was the last chance of the half as the Ghanaians saw out the first stanza.
The Ghanaians nearly doubled their lead as a long-range effort from Amfobea caught Brandt off guard but her crossbar was alert to prevent what would have been a goal of the tournament contender from finding the target. Adams was called into action after a free header from a corner before a piece of brave goalkeeping by her prevented the Europen queens from getting their equaliser.
The Germans kept at it though and despite their relentless efforts struggled to find a way past Adams. Their exertions seemed to finally show in the last 10 minutes of the game as they began to peter out and seemed to lack the energy to flood the Ghanaian defence resulting in speculative efforts from distance from the Germans. They should have had their equaliser with five minutes of normal time left as a well delivered cross evaded the Ghanaian rear but Schuler’s diving header could not find the target.
Ghana, however, were solid enough to see out the result and claim their place in the next round with a game to spare. Adams was adjudged the best player of the game.