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Thursday, September 21, 2023

CHAN: Another shock in Algeria as Niger sends Ghana’s Black Galaxies home

Yet another favorite left the 2022 African Nations Championship earlier than planned following a 2-0 quarterfinal victory for Niger over Ghana on Saturday. A Konadu Yiadom own goal put the Ménas ahead in the opening fifteen minutes and a beautiful curling strike from Boubacar Hainikoye completed Niger’s upset of the Black Galaxies. Niger advance to the semifinals where they will face hosts Algeria on Tuesday.

Ghana controlled the majority of possession throughout but Niger took their opportunities well and pounced when the Black Galaxies turned the ball over in dangerous areas. Black Galaxies goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim did well to scramble back and prevent a potential Augustine Agyapong own goal in the 8th minute but three minutes later Ghana were down. Ibrahim’s punt to the midfield saw Niger win the ball and counter quickly, leaving Moussa Bilyamine with plenty of room to cross from the left wing. Seyni Imarana headed towards goal and Ghana center back Yiadom deflected the shot past a wrong-footed Ibrahim.

The Ghanaian attack continued to look inefficient, an issue that only increased with the absence of star forward Daniel Afriyie. The Black Galaxies threatened with crosses from attacking fullbacks Dennis Korsah and Agyapong but the tactic played into the hands of the Nigerien defense who thrived when dealing with aerial balls. Niger nearly doubled their lead before halftime but Abdoul-Aziz Ibrahim sent his shot over the bar.

It took less than five minutes into the second half for the Ménas to double their lead and deliver the knockout blow. A turnover by the Ghanaian midfield allowed Moussa to move towards the penalty area before passing over to Hainkoye on the left wing. The USGN forward cut inside and unleashed a high curling shot that went beyond the diving Ibrahim before settling inside the far post, a certain candidate for Goal of the Tournament.

Ghana pushed and found the net through Kwame Otu in the 68th minute but the referee blew his whistle and disallowed the goal for an infraction. Niger were content to defend and occasionally strike on the counter attack while a clearly stunned Ghana team could not break down a Ménas defense that has yet to allow a goal through three matches.

Highlights of the match are below.

An own goal from Konadu Yiadom gives Niger an early lead

Boubacar Hainikoye strikes a serious candidate for Goal of the Tournament for Niger’s second