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Libya edge Ghana to be crowned CHAN champions

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Libya beat Ghana 4-3 on penalties to be crowned Champions of the CAF Orange African Nations Championship (CHAN) in the final match that was contested at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.

The North Africans needed the penalty shoot-out and a sudden-death to edge past tournament favourites Ghana, who beat Nigeria in the semi-finals, and the almost half sold Cape Town Stadium was behind the Black Stars.

The win for the Mediterranean Knight, who walks away with $750,000, will be mostly celebrated by Javier Clemente, who is only 10 weeks in as head coach. He had a slight hope to upset Ghana after he held the World Cup participants to a 1-1 draw in the group stages earlier in the tournament.   

One of the spectators was FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who arrived in South Africa a few days before the final to honour the family of the late former statesman Nelson Mandela.

Ghana had a good start to the match, and Mohamed Ghanudi almost opened the scoring in the first minute when he rose the highest in the box to head a looping ball on target but his effort didn’t trouble Mohammed Abdaula as he gathered the ball with ease.

Libya were also looking dangerous onwards, and they had a dangerous delivery from the right flank that Stephen Adams fist away after beating Mohammed Ghanudi to the ball in the 13th minute. The Libyans had another chance to score when midfielder Mohamed Elgadi got to the end of a cross on the far post, but headed just wide 10 minutes later.

Ghana were dominating the match midpoint of the half, but their finishing let them down as they created chances but failed to test the goalkeeper, as was Libya, who were quiet and lost possession easily in the middle of the park.

Both teams had to go to break deadlocked at 0-0 after an unimpressive opening half.

The Black Stars were still looking dangerous in the opening stages of the second-half, and they had a penalty appeal turned down by referee in the 48th minute when Ahmed El Trbi looked to have been brought down by Theophilus Anobaah but the referee only awarded a corner-kick.

In the hour mark, striker Abraham Attobrah shot straight at Mohhamed Abdaula from just outside the area after Seidu Bansey laid the ball back to him. Libya coach Javier Clemente brought on Abelsalam Omar for Mohamed Ghanudi as he looked to inject life to his side after 63 minutes.

The substitute almost made his mark in the 75th minute when his well struck shot from a cross was well blocked by Samule Ainooson, who put his body on the line as the Mediterranean Knight started to ask questions.  

Libya defender Ahmed El Trbi almost created a last minute winning goal when he got past a couple of defenders after surging on the right flank in 90th minute, but his delivery went across the face of goal as both teams prepared for extra-time.

The first 15 minutes for extra-time saw both sides failing to threaten, but the second-half of extra-time started in a flier when Ghana’s late substitute Abdul Mohammed shot just a whisker wide of the post with the goalkeeper Mohamed Abdaula scrambling.

Then, two minutes later Libya had a golden opportunity to score when Abdelsalam Omar’s free header from close range was kept out by a sublime low diving save by Stephen Adams. Both teams closed each other down in remaining minutes to send the match to penalty shoot-out.

Ghana successful penalties: Attobrah, Saka, Owusu
Unsuccessful penalties: Akuffo, Ainooson, Tijane

Libya successful penalties: Ali, Fadel, Almaghasi, El Trbi
Unsuccessful penalties: Omar, Elgadi,

Teams:

Ghana: Adams, Saka, Sulley (Yahaya 63’), Ainooson, Tijani, Attobrah, Opoku © (Owusu 119’), Akuffor, Anobaah (Abdul 99’), Bansey, Mohammed.

Libya: Abdaula, El Trbi, Salama ©, Alwani, Almaghasi, Mohammed, Elgadi, Elhouni, Ali, Ghanudi (Omar 64’), Abushnaf (Fedel 105’)