Night of celebration for Libya

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CHAN libya Manus van Dyk/Gallo Images Celebrations for Libya after winning the 2014 African Nations Championship final match against Ghana at the Cape Town Stadium. Photo: Manus van Dyk/Gallo Images

 

Cape Town - Libya were crowned as African Nations Championship (Chan) champions, beating Ghana 4-3 on penalties at the Cape Town Stadium after the match had ended scoreless after extra time.

It was a tight game throughout, with both sides squandering good chances in regulation play to seal the win.

The first half was an evenly contested affair, with little to separate the two sides, and also not much in the way of goalmouth action.

The west Africans made a positive start, Seidou Bansey going close when his looping header was saved by Mohamed Abdaula with just a minute on the clock.

The best opportunity of the stanza came as early as the fourth minute when a mistake in the Ghana defence allowed Elmutasem Abuschnaf in on goal, but some outstanding keeping by Ghana number one Stephen Adams allowed the player to steal the ball off the feet of the Libyan striker.

The north Africans had the next chance, midway through the half, but Mohamed Elgadi headed wide from Faisal Ali's free kick.

For their part, Ghana failed to properly test Mediterranean Knights shot stopper Abdaula, despite showing some promising build up play.

The second half was the same as the first; every time one side appeared to be getting on top, the other team would break free of their shackles to pose a threat of their own, although again neither keeper was overly troubled.

There was a close escape for the Black Stars with 10 minutes of regulation time to play when Ahmed Almaghasi pulled the trigger with what looked like a goal-bound shot, but the outstanding Samuel Ainooson threw his huge frame in front of the ball to make a crucial block.

Libya it was who ended the game the stronger side, but could not find a way past a tough-tackling Ghana defence.

The game went into extra time, the north Africans having a great opportunity to score three minutes into added time, but Abuschnaf sent a five-yard header over the bar after a great cross from Elmehdi Elhouni.

Ghana were within a whisker of scoring just after the game moved into second half of extra time when Abdul Mohammed had his first time shot trickle past the far post after a route-one ball had been flicked into the Libyan box.

Abdelsalam Omar then should have put the north African side ahead just moments later, but from a free header eight yards out, his header was too close to Adams, who nevertheless made a top save.

Ghana were the more dangerous team in the closing stages, but could not force a goal, the two sides going into penalties for the second consecutive match.

As he had done in the semi-final win over Zimbabwe, Abdaula proved to be an outstanding penalty saver, blocking Ghana's first two spot kicks, from Michael Akuffo and Ainoonson, to hand the Libyans the advantage.

Adams however had also shown himself to be equally adept at saving spot kicks, and he had his side back in the game when he blocked efforts from Elgadi and Omar.

But it was to be Libya's night, the Mediterranean Knights emerging triumphant as the champions after Joshua Tijani pulled his kick wide of goal. - Sapa



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