Thursday, January 17, 2008

GHANA HOSTED AND WON IN 1963 & 1978

• Below is the Daily Graphic report of 2nd December, 1963, on the Black Stars maiden victory in the Nations Cup tournament which was staged in Accra.

THREE-TIME champions of West Africa. Now Ghana has ascended the continental soccer throne of Africa after beating Sudan 3-0 in the Africa Nations Cup final at Accra Sports Stadium yesterday.
After an uneventful first half, during which there was nothing to choose between the two finalists, Ghana asserted herself and played more purposeful football in the second half .
And the man who brought life into game was “Little Bird” Ofei Dodoo who played a brilliant game after he had taken over from Leonard Acquah in the second half.
The TUC men — Mfum and Acquah — pressed hard in the 62nd minute. The Sudanese panicked and in a desperate effort to ward off a typical Black Stars attack, a defence player of Sudan handled the ball in his own half.
Skipper Aggrey Fynn beat Keeper Sabit with a carpet shot from the spot kick to put Ghana ahead.
Then Ofei Dodoo clicked. He raced through the Sudanese defence like a jet liner and centred twice for match winner Edward Acquah to increase the score to 3-0.
Ghana plunged into the attack right from kick off and forced a corner kick.
The Sudanese soon found their feet and for a brief spell put the Stars under great pressure. The Stars hit back and a perfect combination among the soccer Trojan — Edward Acquah, Leonard Acquah and Mfum — found Salisu, who sent in a crashing shot. Keeper Sabit could not save it but there was nobody to connect so Ghana lost an opportunity to take the lead.
The Sudanese were very fast and they used their usual long passes to advantage. Their goal-conscious forwards were very business-like and, unlike the Stars, they delivered shots from all angles.
By the 30th minute, the Stars seemed to be out of the game. The forward line failed to click and I think Leonard Acquah was the cause. He played below form and apart from spoiling the combination, he went about pushing people and was always at the offside
Second Half
Dodoo replaced Leonard Acquah in the second half and he certainly brought new lift into the game.
As usual, Ofei was very fast at the right wing and he fed the two goal merchants — Acquah and Mfum — well.
The game was very fast, with the Stars slightly on top. They combined effectively and their usual soccer artistry began to show results. The pressure was great on the visitors and a Sudanese defender, in a desperate attempt to stop an Ofei-Acquah-Mfum move, handled the ball in the “18”.
A penalty kick was awarded and Skipper Aggrey Fynn scored to give Ghana the much needed lead in the 62nd minute.
You could imagine the sort of applause that greeted that goal. Everybody was on his feet.
The crowd cheered wildly. The Stars really got inspiration from that goal and they pinned the Sudanese to their own half of the field.
The stadium rocked again with thunderous cheers in the 72nd minute when Edward Acquah hit the net after receiving a neat pass from right winger Dodoo.
The Stars took full control of the game from that moment and they toyed with the Sudanese.
Dodoo, who played great game, tapped a loose ball from Mfum and I knew a goal was in the making.
He outwitted the entire Sudanese with a body swerve, worked this way through the touchline and sent in a perfect pass to Acquah who scored to give Ghana a third goal in the 82nd minute.
Stars line-up: Dodoo Ankrah, Crenstil, Oblitey, Ben Simmons, Addo Odametey, Aggrey Fynn, Ofei Dodoo, Kwame Adarkwa, Edward Acquah, Wilberforce Mfum, Mohammed Salisu.


• Below is KEN BEDIAKO’S report in the Daily Graphic of 17th March 1978, on the Black Stars second victory on HOME SOIL in the Nations Cup tournament.


THE Cranes of Uganda left the shores of Ghana last night with sweet memories, for they were here when history was born.
Not only that. The Cranes were co-actors in a drama which saw the Black Stars of Ghana win the Africa Nations Cup trophy outright and set the AFC the task of replacing yet another continental trophy.
Hafia of Guinea won the African clubs cup for keeps in Conakry on December 18, last year, and Ghana’s feat is incidentally exactly four months later — March 18.
“We are the Brazil of Africa,” fans began to chant after the Stars clear-cut 2-0 victory over Uganda last Saturday. This is an obvious reference to Brazil’s feat in winning the Jules Rimet Trophy for good in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
But the difference here is that Brazil won the cup when it was universally accepted, even two years to the time of the competition, that they were the best in the world. That was when Brazil could boast of the Peles, Jairs, Tostaos and Carlos Albertos.
One can hardly say this of the Black Stars. Not even the most fanatical Ghanaian soccer fan could imagine six months ago that players like Kyenkyenhene, Quaye, Yawson, Carr, just to mention a few, could face the strains of the Africa Cup final and come out triumphant.
But here you are in the 21st year of the Africa Cup competition and on Ghana’s 21st birthday these unsung heroes rose to the occasion to emulate the fine examples set by Aggrey-Fynn, Addo Odametey and their contemporaries in 1963 and 1965.
No doubt the government was so impressed that three military helicopters were at the stadium to fly the players and officials from the stadium to the Burma Camp where the Head of State held a reception for them.
Fittingly, it was the pace and artistry of Opoku Afriyie, a name synonymous with so many important goals for the Black Stars, which set Ghana on the road to victory in the titanic cup final. He scored both goals.
The opener came after 38 minutes of a battle of nerves and sinews. Full back Paha had been hurt and just as Offei Ansah had appeared on the field to take over, Kyenkyenhene ballooned a high clearance.
The ball went to the industrious Afriyie, whose delicate chip arched just underneath the bar, beating the entire Uganda defence plus the goalie, who had taken two steps forward.
The second goal came 19 minutes inside the second half. It was a perfectly weighted cross from Razak which set Opoku Afriyie free in the middle.
He tore at the heart of the Ugandan defence and with a deep incisive run, cheekily whisked the ball beyond the advancing goalie.
These two goals apart, Afriyie could have got a couple more in this epic final in which both sides showed no signs of fatigue.
Ghana’s version of the legendary German goal manufacturer, Gerd Muller, Afriyie was a constant threat to the polished Uganda defence. Supported by Polo and Razak’s intelligent running, Afriyie always had the Ugandans vulnerable to probes down the middle.
The game was only 23 seconds old when Afriyie openly broke loose and hit the post with a powerful left footer. The rebound went to Yawson, but he shot wide. A minute later, Afriyie went down but he was flagged offside. The Cranes quickly repulsed the Stars’ onslaught and in the fourth minute left winger Fred Isabiryi tested Carr with a ground shot. There was plenty of action.
Polo, still trying to find his own rhythm, beat two men on the run and centred for Afriyie, who appeared undecided right in the box and fumbled with a good scoring chance.
Ghana forced two corner kicks in the seventh and eighth minutes to no avail and it was the visitors who, combining effectively, went ahead in the 14th minute.
Danger Man Philip Omondi, who was neatly pocketed by wing half Quaye, nearly capitalised on a defensive blunder.
Play was even with both sides settling down to constructive football, and until Afriyie’s curtain raiser in the 38th minute there was hardly anything to choose between the two sides.
The Stars had a chance of consolidating their lead only 14 seconds after the recess. A toss from the left flank sailed over a sea of heads and went straight to Anas. With only the goalie to beat, everybody expected the ball to be dancing in the net but, Anas, panicking, shot wide.
Four minutes later, Yawson also had the chance to increase Ghana’s lead but his close range shot hit the side netting.
Let off the hook, the visitors hit back fiercely and in a brilliant three-man move, inside left Godfrey Kisitu stretched Carr with a powerful low grounder.
That was a cup final by all standards. Teamwork on both sides was superb, no wonder the game continued to be in the balance for a very long time. Goal-scoring chances were becoming difficult to get and that was why when Yawson threw away a chance after a fine connection from Afriyie in the 57th minute, the crowd did not take it kindly.
Kayode took over from Anas in the 60th minute. He brought more speed into the attack and it was four minutes after his inclusion that Afriyie got the second goal, which turned out to be the very last.
“Welcome to the final of the 11th Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 1978. May the best team win.” That was the message on the electronic scoreboard before the kick-off.
Yes, the best team — the Black Stars — did win.
With four wins and a draw, nine goals with only two against, in a competition of this nature, Ghana deserves the accolade of Africa’s Super Champions
.
Ghana: Joseph Carr, Isaac Paha/Ofei Ansah, Awuley Quaye, Kuuku Dadzie, Kyenkyenhene, Nketia Yawson, Anas Seidu /Kayode, Opoku Afriyie, Abdul Razak, Mohammed Polo.
UGANDA: Sali, Paul Simwange, Musenge, Lwanga, Kwinda, Kiganda, Nasur, Nsereko/Kansinge, Omondi, Kisitu, Isaberyi.

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