Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Gyan-inspired Ghana ease past Niger
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Asamoah Gyan inspires Ghana to a comfortable win to set up a Cape Verde clash
Ex-Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan starred as Ghana eased past Niger to top Group B and book an Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final clash with Cape Verde.
Gyan opened the scoring for the Black Stars early on before setting-up Christian Atsu and John Boye either side of the break.
The former Blacks Cats forward broke the deadlock after five minutes, controlling Bristol City winger Albert Adomah’s drilled cross before firing past Niger keeper Daouda Kassaly.
Niger felt aggrieved moments later when Koffi Dan Kowa’s leveller was controversially ruled out by Senegalese referee Badara Diatta after Moussa Maazou jumped alongside Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda.
Black Stars captain Gyan – sporting a blonde number three in his hair – was growing in confidence but his 35-yard free-kick was easily held by Kassaly 20 minutes in.
Gyan was immediately involved again as Ghana doubled their lead, his dinked ball was taken on the chest by Atsu who coolly slotted past Kassaly.
The Mena sat deep attempting to halt the flurry of Black Stars attacks, playing long to Maazou who looked most likely to make something happen for Niger.
Kassaly did well to restrict Ghana to two, diving low to palm away Emmanuel Agyemang Badu’s strong right footed drive before the interval.
But he could do nothing about the Black Stars’ third minutes after the break, parrying Gyan’s header into the path of Boye, who tapped in from close range.
The four-time Afcon winners were looking dangerous with every attack but Gyan spurned a good chance from close range on the hour mark.
Niger substitute Issoufou Boubacar’s free-kick forced Dauda into a save on 64 minutes, but the Ghana keeper comfortably collected despite an awkward bounce.
Former West Ham United defender John Pantsil almost played his side into trouble, but Dauda scrambled away his weak back pass under pressure.
Niger’s Mohamed Soumaila was lucky not to see red for a cynical challenge as Solomon Asante burst forward late on.
Ghana’s victory keeps hopes of a first Afcon title since 1982 alive as they return to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to face Cape Verde in Saturday’s quarter-final.