Ghana marched into the knockout stages of the 2014 Orange African Nations Championship as Group C winners following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Ethiopia at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Tuesday evening.
Kwabina Adusei’s goal from the spot was enough as the Black Stars continued their quest for silverware.
Ethiopia boss Sewnet Bishaw only made one change to the side that lost 1-0 to Congo on Friday. Mentsenot Umema was included in the starting XI in place of the suspended Asrat Gobena.
Meanwhile, Ghana coach Maxwell Konadu made no fewer than four changes to his side with talisman Yahaya Mohammed suspended and attacking partner Sulley Mohammed injured for the all-important encounter.
As a result Seidu Bansey started as the lone striker up front. As expected when a side has nothing to play for, Ethiopia who were already knocked out of the tournament going into the tie, weren’t planning on sitting back as they pushed forward in search of their first goal of this year’s tournament.
The Black Stars, though, were as a result also handed the odd chance and it was they who went closest in the opening exchanges.
First through Bansey who beat Walia Antelopes keeper Jemal Bushra to the ball, but he was unable to direct his header on target in the fourth minute.
Mohammed Latif was handed a great chance to open the scoring in the 19th minute.
After robbing an Ethiopian defender of the ball he burst through on goal, but he could only manage to force his resulting effort over the crossbar.
The Walias created two good chances just before the break. First Omod Omod sent his effort just wide following a flowing move in the 37th minute before captain Adane Gebreye’s acrobatic effort went just over two minutes later.
Despite all the attacking movement on display in the first stanza, the half ended goalless.
Both sides continued to create half-chances after the break with Michael Akuffo’s curling free-kick going just wide of Bushra’s goal in the 58th minute.
The Black Stars were awarded a penalty-kick in the 77th minute following a foul from Salahadin Hussen on Bancey inside the area.
Kwabina Adusei duly stepped up and converted from the spot to send the West Africans through to the knockout stages.
With Congo and Libya playing to a 2-2 draw in the other Group C clash in Polokwane, Ghana progressed as group leaders alongside the Mediterranean Knights who finished as group runners-up.
The Walia Antelopes, on the other hand, plummeted out of the tournament without accumulating a point or scoring a single goal.