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Satellites qualify for Under-20 AFCON

BY: Peter Sarbah
Black Satellites' Matthew Cudjoe battling with his Nigerien counterpart for the ball
Black Satellites' Matthew Cudjoe battling with his Nigerien counterpart for the ball

Ghana’s Black Satellites booked a ticket to compete in the 2021 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Niger 5-3 on penalties in the semi-final clash of the West Africa Football Union 'B' tournament in Benin yesterday.

After 120 minutes of football, the tie had to be settled on the lottery of penalties with Coach Abdul-Karim Zito's side executing their kicks with finesse from the spot. Frank Boateng emerged hero of the day for the Satellites when he converted the team's last kick to put them through to the final of the competition on Sunday.

By reaching the final of the competition, the Satellites automatically booked their place at the continental competition in Mauritius.
Ghana started the game at the Stade de Gaule (Porto-Novo) on a bright note and forced two great saves from Niger goalkeeper, Abubakar Issaka, after saving Mugeez Zakaria’s strike before punching away a fierce shot from Sulley Mohammed.

Goalkeeper Issaka could not continue the game and was substituted after saving that ferocious volley from Sulley.

Shortly afterwards, the Nigeriens came close to scoring but the effort missed the post narrowly before Precious Boah also forced a superb save from substitute goalkeeper, Omar Lawali to deny Ghana a goal.

Both teams returned to the second half hopeful of breaking the deadlock but could not find the target as the game went into extra time. However, sensing the game could be heading for a penalty shootout, Coach Zito introduced goalkeeper Emmanuel Essue for Danlad Ibrahim who started the game for Ghana.

The substitution turned to be a master stroke as Essue converted Ghana's first kick which provided the momentum for his teammates to score from the spot, as Niger paid the price for missing their first kick.

Ghana, three times champions in the competition (1993, 1999, 2009) got to this stage after beating Nigeria (1-0) in the opening game before losing to Cote d’Ivoire (0-1) to qualify for the semi-final.

Ghana would thus meet the winner of the game between Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso in the final on Sunday for the trophy at stake.