Medeama, Dreams FC cruise in African Champions League, Confed Cup
Ghana’s representatives in this year’s CAF competitions, Medeama SC and Dreams FC, made the country proud as they qualified for the next stage of their respective continental competitions on Sunday.
While Medeama SC beat Remo Stars of Nigeria 3-2 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 on aggregate to qualify for the next stage of the CAF Champions League, Dreams FC also secured a passage to the next stage of the CAF Confederation Cup after they exhibited a strong fighting spirit by coming from a goal down to beat Milo FC of Guinea 2-1 at the Accra Stadium.
The Ghana champions went into the game with a 1-0 advantage and needed to guard the slim lead from the first leg in Cape Coast, but they succumbed to the dictates of the host in the 73rd minute through an own goal which allowed the game to travel to penalties after a 1-1 stalemate at the end of regulation time.
During the tie-breaking shoot-out, there were heartbreaking moments for the home side as they missed three kicks in succession (second, third and fourth kicks) compared to two missed kicks (second and fourth) for their opponents to carry the day and progress to the first round of Africa’s premier inter-club competition.
Dreams FC, on the other hand, played a determined game and had to dig deep late in the second half of the game to secure the two quick goals that broke the hearts of Milo FC who put up an impressive team performance and dictated the pace for most part of the game.
The Ghanaians needed a spot kick by Agyenim Boateng and John Antwi's late header from a corner kick to break the resolve of the Guineans and complete a difficult comeback story.
By the 12th minute, their resilience paid off when Seydouba Bangoura capitalised on a rebound shot to fire past a hapless goalkeeper, Mohammed Lamine.
The goal unsettled Dreams FC, who were left to chase the shadows of the visitors and had come up with a game plan to score an early goal to frustrate the opponents which worked to perfection.
Milo FC took total control of the midfield after the goal and dictated the pace while Dreams FC appeared bereft of ideas as they struggled to string passes together.
The pressure from the visitors became intense as they resorted to counterattacks and they nearly increased the tally in the 17th minute after a defence-splitting pass located Kamara Yonta in the box but his shot missed the target narrowly.
In the 26th minute, Dreams tested the agility of goalkeeper Lamine when Ishmael Dede struck from a long distance but Lamine stretched to punch the ball over the crossbar. It brought some sense of relief to Coach Karim Zito's boys who launched another attack following a brilliant move by Antwi but he was brought down at the edge of the box for a free kick which was wasted.
Ten minutes before recess, Dreams FC's defence men were caught off-guard as they left Milo FC’s Mohammed Sylla unmarked in the penalty box and he nearly punished the hosts for their sloppiness, but the Guinean player watched in agony as his effort flew across the face of the posts.
Coach Zito was forced to make early tactical substitutions in the 42nd minute when he replaced Sylvester Simba and Ofori MacCarthy with Issah Abdul Aziz and Emmanuel Agyei, respectively, but that tactical change could not alter their style of play significantly.
Dreams FC’s style of play after recess was just disappointing, their fans were losing hope as the visiting side’s danger man, Sylla, went on the rampage with his skills, mostly cutting through the Dreams FC defence with ease and making quick runs to create chances.
However, eight minutes before regulation time, Dreams FC cancelled the lead through a penalty before Antwi’s header from a corner gave them victory and safe passage to the next stage of the competition.