Ghana made a stuttering start to their inaugural WAFU Zone B Women's tournament, losing 0-1 to hosts Cote d'Ivoire in their opening Group A game at the Champroux Stadium yesterday.
The Queens failed to draw inspiration from the presence of Ghana Football Association President, Kwesi Nyantakyi, who also doubles as the WAFU Zone B President, and had nothing to show for their thrilling, free-flowing game that intermittently earned applause from the crowd. Rather, they gifted the hosts an easy win with a 70th minute goal from Nina Zote Kpaho and that was all the Ivorians needed to snatch the win from the Ghanaians.
Indeed, the Queens had themselves to blame for not taking the chances they created in the first half when they had the Ivorians at their mercy.
Grace Asantewaa, Jane Ayieyam and Priscilla Okyere all had some glaring scoring chances but missed the target narrowly on each occasion. But the only significant chance that came the way of the Ivorians resulted in a goal.
Keen to reward their fans, the Ivorians resumed the second half with more urgency, trying to break the resolute Ghana defence built around Faustina Ampah, Janet Egyir, Gladys Adobea and Ellen Coleman.
The plot to wear the Ghana defence down worked as a frustrated Ampah failed to completely clear the ball which was then pounced on by Kpaho who then moved deep to the final quarter of the Ghana area and then took her chance with a low grounder which goalkeeper Patricia Mantey was unable to grab.
Expectedly, it brought the fans to their feet as both bench and fans celebrated their first win over Ghana.
The Queens tried to equalise, but the Ivorians turned on their defensive tactics and bullying style to further frustrate the Ghanaians.
Referee Iyorhe Mimisen from Nigeria gave the Ghanaians who had been at the receiving end of Cote d'Ivoire's physical play, very little protection and when she finally did, it resulted in two yellow cards and the sending off orders to Miriam Diakite. It was a punishment too late as barely had the tall Ivorian walked off than the final whistle went.
A disappointed Ghana coach, Mercy Tagoe Quarcoo, described the loss as undeserved, given that her ladies dominated play but were punished for a momentary loss of concentration.
"That is not how we planned to start our campaign.
"Unfortunately, in football playing beautiful without results doesn't pay and that was our story.
"All is not lost though. We will make amends in the second game to ensure that we achieve our primary target of being among the final four," Tagoe Quarcoo, in her first competitive game as Queens coach, told the Daily Graphic.
Ghana will next play against Niger on Friday.
Ghana: Patricia Mantey, Ellen Coleman, Janet Egyir, Faustina Ampah/Philicity Asuako, Gladys Amfobea, Juliet Acheampong, Grace Asantewaa, Mavis Owusu/Alice Kusi, Priscilla Okyere, Portia Boakye, Jane Ayieyam/Rita Okyere