Port Elizabeth – Despite a flattering 2-0 scoreline, and an unconvincing victory, Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan said winning was all that mattered in their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal match at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on Saturday.
Tournament debutants Cape Verde Islands proved worthy opposition for the much-fancied Ghana side. The Black Stars managed to turn the tide with their opening goal just after the interval.
“The key to our victory was the penalty and it opened up the game for us,” said Gyan after the match.
“We stood firm, we have experience. At these knockout stages, when you lose a game you are out the competition so the most important thing is we got through.”
Gyan said Cape Verde were a tactically astute outfit.
“They are tactically disciplined and we were expecting a difficult game. They were all behind the ball and they have very strong players.
“The first half was a bit frustrating because we couldn't go through their defence.”
When the penalty was awarded in the 52nd minute substitute Wakaso Mubarak was given the responsibility instead of the captain. Gyan emphasised he would not take any penalties in regulation play in accordance with his mother's wishes.
“I said it over and over again, before this tournament my mother asked me not to take it. But if it came to a penalty shootout, I would have no option but to step in there.”
Gyan was questioned about his role upfront on his own, but said he comfortable in the position.
“Talking about me playing as a lone striker, I think I've been playing this kind of role for a couple of years now. I'm really happy, as I always say I'm very happy to be on a winning side. Sometimes it is quite frustrating being alone. But we came here to win and we did.”
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah agreed that getting the win was all that mattered.
“The first half was OK, the mental attitude was really good. In the second half Cape Verde dominated and we stood up to them but the most important thing was that we won,” Appiah told reporters after the game.
“I knew it would be a tough game, it was not one of our best games but there's room for improvement before our next game.
“Watching the way they qualified, I knew they would be trouble.” – Sapa