Fatawu Issahaku was on the score sheet again when the Black Meteors beat their Algerian counterparts 1:0 at the Baba Yara Stadium in the return encounter of the Under 23 AFCON Qualifier.
Issahaku scored a spectacular goal in the first leg in Algeria to earn Ghana a vital away draw ahead of the return encounter in Kumasi.
He once again scored the lone goal which turned out to be the decider for Ghana’s qualification to 2023 Under 23 AFCON tournament to be held in Morocco in June, this year. Ghana has failed to make it to the Olympic Games since 2004 and the qualification of the Black Meteors for the AFCON is a step closer to the global event.
The first chance of the match came the way of Fatawu Issahaku whose strike in the fourth minute hit the woodwork. Three minutes later, he set up Ernest Appiah Nuamah after racing into the box from the right, but Nuamah’s connection missed the crossbar narrowly.
The two would however not be denied again in the 11th minute when they combined beautifully to break the virginity of the game. This time, it was Nuamah who broke away on the left side of the attack before sending in a cross that was headed home by Issahaku from close range.
The Sporting Lisbon winger almost made it two for the Black Meteors in the 26th minute when he delivered a scintillating free-kick that missed the target by inches
The Algerians after the half-hour mark stepped up their game as they created a series of nervous moments in the vital area of the Black Meteors.
For a moment the Fennec Foxes thought they had scored the equalizer in the 39th but for a brilliant save by Danlad Ibrahim who pushed a goal-bound header from a corner to safety. They continued to probe for the equalizer, forcing the backline of the Meteors to make unpardonable mistakes but they could not take advantage to restore parity.
Both teams returned from the break determined to fetch the next goal to enhance their chances of qualification as the game remained open with a 1:0 scoreline.
Despite the end-to-end action in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Black Meteors slightly maintained their dominance with Daniel Afriyie Barnie and Nuamah coming close to scoring the second goal.
With 20 minutes to the end of the match, the Coach of the Algerians introduced three substitutes in his quest to pull even and probably push the game to penalties. But it was the Ghanaians who had a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed in the 74th minute when Nuamah came face to face with the goalkeeper who blocked his effort.
Coach Ibrahim Tanko brought on Emmanuel Yeboah for Barnie in the 78th minute to sharpen his attack. His introduction rejuvenated the attack of the Meteors as they piled pressure on the Algerians in the last few minutes but failed to increase the tally until the end of the match.