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Soccer News of Monday, 13 October 2003

Source: GNA

Abuja 2003: Meteors shut out by Nigeria

Abuja, Oct.13,GNA - The Black Meteors failed to advance to the final of the soccer competition at the Eighth All Africa Games at Abuja when they bowed 0-3 to Nigeria in a semi final match played at the Tafawa Balawa Stadium in Bauchi, the capital city which shares the same name with the state.

The Meteors played a delightful attacking football in the early stages of the first half but messed up with the good chances they created.

On the fourth minute, Asamoah Gyan made the first real attempt at goal but shot wide. Asamoah missed again after failing to connect Bernard Don Bortey's cross from the right flank.

Nigeria then got into the game after surviving the early Ghanaian scare and competed well from defence up-front.

As it became a ding-dong battle, Yahuza Abubakar had a good chance to put Ghana ahead but he missed the target.

When the Nigerians had their turn, it took a perfect alertness from goalkeeper George Owu to deny them the leader.

Kwadwo Poku also robbed Ghana of the first goal after failing to connect home a pass from Bortey.

The Meteors got punished for their numerous misses when the "Dream Team Three," as the Nigerians were referred to by their kinsmen, went ahead in the 35th minute through Alfred Emuejeaye. The Nigerian attacker capitalised on a defensive Blunder and shot into the net with his left foot after Owu had moved off his line. The goal took the wind out of the sail of the Meteors and they allowed the Nigerians to dictate the pace of the game. The Meteors became lethargic and their passes went astray, as they could no longer keep possession of the ball until the end of the first half.

Five minutes into the second half, Pascal Ssmaila of Nigeria beat Owu with with a grounder after the Nigerian attackers had overwhelmed the Ghanaian defence from a swift counter attack.

Substitute Charles Taylor worsened the situation for the Meteors as the most expensive player in the Ghanaian premiership messed up losing the ball easily in attempts to dribble and lost the ball to their opponents with faulty passes.

Shaibu Yakubu displayed the urgency needed for goals when he came in but lacked the power and vision to create or fulfil such obligations. Consequently, the Meteors could no longer break down the defence of the Nigerians, though they had more possession than their opponents. With the Ghanaian Football Supporters Club tearing away at their drums as a sign of encouragement, the Ghanaian defence moved forward in support of their attackers, but when a long ball was floated behind them, Daniel Coleman and his colleagues struggled hard to contain Uche Kalu who went down in the tussle.

Referee Sillah Malick awarded a questionable penalty kick to the Nigerians, the spot-kick was fingered out by goalkeeper Owu, only for his defenders to allow Emmanuel Izuagha to connect the rebound to make it three for the hosts.

Ghana will now play the loser of the second semi-final match between Zambia and Cameroon for the bronze medal while Nigeria plays the winner in the grand finale for gold and silver.