Senegal claim the 2019 WAFU Cup of Nations after a penalty shootout over regional rivals Ghana. Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Hosts Senegal are the champions of the 2019 WAFU Cup of Nations after beating Ghana 3-1 in a penalty shootout following 120 minutes of football which ended 1-1 at the Stade Lat Dior in Thies on Sunday.
Ghana almost took the lead in the tenth minute when Habib Mohammed met a left-sided free-kick from Augustine Okrah, but his eight-yard header struck the post.
Senegal threatened next from a right-sided free-kick in the 13th minute when Ousseynou Niang’s cross picked out Philippe Paulin Keny, but he headed inches over under no pressure from the defence.
Two minutes later the Lions of Teranga caused more danger at a set-piece, this time Moustapha getting onto a pin-point corner-kick from Ibrahima Drama but the former headed just wide from 12-yards out.
Both sides tightened up their defence after that and looked a little timid in attack, which resulted in no more decent scoring chances before the break.
Senegal came out strong at the start of the second stanza and should have taken the lead in the 57th minute when Assane Mbodj met a corner-kick at the back post, but he headed wide from only a couple of yards out.
A minute later Mbodj was in the action again, this time with a fantastic turn on the edge of the box to beat his marker but he saw his shot skim the top of the crossbar.
Ghana finally created their first chance of the second half in the 68th minute when a powerful run from Okrah saw him burst through the middle of the defence, but the Senegalese keeper was quickly off his line to deny him.
The Black Stars nearly stole the victory in the 82nd minute when a corner-kick resulted in captain Shafiu Mumuni getting into space six-yards out, but his strong header was magnificently saved by Pape Ndiaye. That was the last decent chance of the half as regulation time ended goalless and the match moved into extra-time.
The Lions of Teranga came bitterly close to taking the lead in the 105th minute of extra time when swift work down the left resulted in substitute Youssouph Badji meeting a cross from Niang, but his eight-yard attempt struck the post. Two minutes into the second half of extra time the game finally got its first goal when Badji connected with another cross from Niang, but this time he turned the ball into the net from six-yards out, 1-0.
Ghana were not going down without a fight and equalised in the 110th minute when a right-sided free-kick resulted in a goalmouth scramble which concluded with Joseph Esso firing home from eight-yards out, 1-1.
Neither side could find the winner in the remaining ten minutes as they game ended 1-1 and went into penalties to decide the outcome.
In the shootout Senegal keeper Ndiaye made two saves to deny Okrah and Justice Blay while Ghana’s Fatawu Mohammed struck the crossbar to see the Lions of Teranga win on penalties.