The Black Meteors lost 3-2 on penalties to Ivory Coast after coming back twice to end the match at 2-2 after extra time. Youssouf Dao put Les Elephants ahead inside 12 minutes but Yaw Yeboah restored penalty shortly after the restart.
Youssouf Dao managed to beat his marker to get a brace, only for his goal to be canceled out by Evans Mensah at the dying embers of the match. Ivory Coast’s Ira Tape pulled off three penalty saves to delay Olympic Games qualification for Ibrahim Tanko’s men.
Ghana will fight for a third place finish with the loser of the second semi-final match between Egypt and South Africa.
Good going forward, but leaky at the back
The Black Meteors have only kept a clean sheet once in the tournament and that was against bottom side Mali. Among the final four in the competition, Ghana have conceded the highest number of goals (6). Ibrahim Tanko’s men a showed lack of positioning against Ivory Coast as the center backs were caught ball watching in both goals.
The penalty curse continues
There is a stage in a match that Ghanaians fear most and that is the penalty shootout. The Black Meteors produced a heartbreaking performance from 12 yards against Ivory Coast, delaying qualification to Tokyo. This has been a problem for footballers at all levels in Ghana. In 2019 alone, three subsets of Ghana (Black Stars, Black Stars B and the Black Meteors) have fallen victim to a penalty shootout.
The Black Meteors exhibits great team spirit
A persistent feature of Ibrahim Tanko’s side is their incredible fighting spirit. A story which goes all the way back to the qualifiers for the U-23 AFCON. The Black Meteors were in a pinch after drawing 1-1 with Algeria in the first leg at home but managed to beat the North African side 1-0 in the return leg. In the first game of the tournament proper, Ghana salvaged a point against Cameroon courtesy an 87th minute equaliser by Habib Mohammed. In the final group A game, Ghana needed a second half brace by Kwabena Owusu to defeat Mali and qualify for the semi-finals. On Tuesday, the Black Meteors once again went down twice against Ivory Coast today and managed to claw back in both situations.
The team plays better in the second half
Ghana have built a reputation of being slow starters in all national team levels and that has been the case for the Black Meteors. The performances in the second half of matches in this U-23 AFCON have been usually an upgrade on the preceding half. Against Mali, both of Ghana’s goals came in the second half. This was also the case against Ivory Coast in the semi-final.
The Olympics dream is still alive
There are three slots available for African teams in next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The two finalists in the U-23 AFCON will automatically qualify and the last slot will go to the winner of the third place playoff. Ghana will face the loser of the second semi-final and a win will qualify the Black Meteors to the Olympics for the first time in 16 years.
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