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Sports News of Saturday, 27 February 2021


How Zito inspired Ghana win over Cameroon with non-existent World Cup qualification talk

Ghana coach Abdul Karim Zito Ghana coach Abdul Karim Zito

Ghana coach Abdul Karim Zito reveals he fired up his team for Thursday's Africa U20 Cup of Nations quarter-final clash with Cameroon with talks of a possible qualification ticket reward for the cancelled 2021 Fifa U20 World Cup.

The Black Satellites booked a place in the semi-final of the African championship with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over the young Indomitable Lions at Stade Olympique in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

Ordinarily, all Afcon semi-finalists are also rewarded with spots to represent Africa at the U20 World Cup but the situation has been made different this year after Fifa cancelled the 2021 global showpiece set for Indonesia, owing to health and safety concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The cancellation announcement for the tournament was made in December, only days after Ghana won a sub-regional Wafu Zone B championship in Benin to qualify for the continental gathering.

“We came into this game with the mental attitude to win. They won all their group matches so it was a tough challenge but today we are happy to beat them and qualify to the next stage," Zito said at the post-match press conference, as reported by the Ghana FA's official website.

“It’s a big achievement to meet Cameroon and beat them. The most important thing for now is that we have qualified to the semis. I'm happy we have been able to qualify to the semis.

“I told my boys Fifa can change the decision not to play the World Cup so they should just qualify, and we will see what will happen.

“I congratulate Cameroon because they fought a good fight but there’s always an element of luck in the game.

“People have always said that Ghana wasn’t good with penalties, but we did it in Benin and we have done it again today."

After a goalless 90 minutes, Cameroon broke the deadlock in the first half of extra-time through Kevin-Prince Milla.

Ghana responded four minutes later through Frank Boateng, taking the games into penalties.

On Monday, the Black Satellites will take on one of Gambia and the Central African Republic in the semi-final.

Ghana last qualified for the U20 World Cup in 2015 when they went on to reach the Round of 16 of the championship held in New Zealand.

Zito's outfit is three-time African champions (1993, 1999 and 2009) and 2009 world champions.