A brace from striker Richard Danso and Captain Ishahaku Konda fine strike ensured Ghana recorded a 3-1 victory over Benin in the first leg of the U20 Africa Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Coach Jimmy Cobblah’s side was however made to work for the win with Benin taking full advantage of Ghana’s profligacy and disjointed player in the first half.
The Young Squirrels took the lead after 28 minutes with striker Allagbani Saliou getting on the end of a neat cross from the right to finish off a quick fire counter attacking move.
Benin have up unto then not recorded a shot on target as they defended gallantly with a clear tactic to play counter attacking football.
Ghana has a golden chance to pull even in the 33rd minute when Basit Omar benefitting from a loose ball and with only goalkeeper Katchon Abiola to beat but the New Edubiase Striker’s shot came off his on-rushing opponent.
Allagbani Saliou celebrating his goal Benin held onto their slim lead into recess by completing shutting out their hosts.
Coach Jimmy Cobblah made his first change at the restart with Liberty Professionals’ Elvis Kyei Baffour replacing Agyei Boakye who plays his cub football at Medeama.
Ghana had a good shout for a penalty kick just two minutes into the second half when defender Assogba Youssouf appeared to have blocked a cross with his hand but the referee signaled play on.
Abiola in the Benin post was putting in a man of the match performance and scored full marks by going down well to save Kyei Baffour’s shot on the 50th minute mark.
Ghana was now beginning to turn the screws on Benin but the Young Squirrels remained resolute at the back.
The Black Satellites got their reward minute for the second half pressure in the 58th when Richard Danso’s shot was deflected in much to the relieve of the home supporters.
Ghana should have gone ahead twice in a space of two minutes but goalkeeper Abiola was once more again on hand to deny first Kyei Baffour and then Maxwell Arthur in the most spectacular fashion.
Captain Ishahaku Konda then bundled in a corner kick to hand Ghana the lead for the first time in the game in the 72nd minute.
Play was delayed in the aftermath of the goal as medics of Benin rushed onto the pitch at the referee’s signal to attend to the impressive Abiola.
The game restarted with Ghanaians still pressing to extend their lead knowing a slim win in Cape Coast is not the desired result especially with how good Benin had played, in particular, defended.
Richard Danso scored his second of the game in the 80th minute by curling in a beauty off a loose clearance by Videkon Aubin.
Coach Jimmy Cobblah’s tactical shift, in particular pushing Emmanuel Kumah into midfield was really paying off. The Mighty Jets winger had been a pale shadow of himself throughout the first half.
Ghana will now travel to play Benin in the return encounter with a healthy 3-1 win.
Match report by footballmadeinghana.com