The Black Queens registered a narrow win to grab three points in the tournament opener in Accra Gladys Amfobea’s first half goal handed hosts Ghana a 1-0 triumph over Algeria in the opening game of the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Accra on Saturday.
Despite a series of wasted opportunities the Black Queens were able to claim all three points in the Group A fixture at the Accra Sports Stadium.Ghana coach Bashir Hayford largely stuck to the side that beat South Africa 1-0 in their last warm-up fixture, with only first-choice goalkeeper Patricia Mantey replacing Fafali Dumahisi.
In a defensive set-up, Algeria coach Radia Fertoul went for a 4-3-2-1 formation, with striker Ines Boutaleb as the lone target woman.
Backed by the home crowd, Ghana tried to take early control of the game in search for the opener. In the fifth minute, the Black Queens went knocking for the first time but Samira Suleman, who latched onto a Sherifatu Sumaila through ball, saw her shot easily controlled by goalkeeper Kahina Takenint.
Five minutes later, it was Sumaila who went looking for the breakthrough but her shot went over the bar. From the resulting corner, the ball kindly fell to Eqyir but her shot was pushed out for another corner. Ghana’s early efforts were finally rewarded in the 13th minute when right-back Amfobea volleyed a shot from outside the box into the roof of the net after Algeria failed to fully clear a danger.
The Fennecs had their first chance of the game three minutes later but captain Fatima Sekouane failed to direct Habiba Sadou’s in-swinger on goal. The North Africans suffered another setback in the 28th minute when Amina Hemour had to be replaced by Imene Morrouche due to injury. A minute later, centre-back Faustina Ampah almost made it 2-0 for the home side when she connected to Priscilla Okyere’s cross. The header, however, went wide.
The Fennecs made another attempt for an equalizer three minutes to half-time but Madina Ramdani could not get enough touch to properly direct her header on goal.
Moments after recess, Portia Boakye saw a shot coolly collected by goalkeeper Takenint, before Merrouche shot into the side net at the other end.
In the 70th minute, substitute Jane Ayieyam made a solo run into the box but her shot was pushed away by the goalkeeper, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
The diminutive striker put the ball at the back of the net with a simple tap-in a minute later, only for Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse to deny the goal on grounds of off-side.
Ghana seemingly getting into their element, they went knocking again two minutes later but Okyere’s cross flew helplessly across the face of goal.
Then it was Grace Asantewaa’s turn. The substitute made a run into the box, released a shot, but goalkeeper Takenint reacted sharply to tip the ball over. It was Ghana all the way at this point, as Asantewaa saw another shot from the edge of the box fly over.
There were more chances for the home side but Asantewaa, Ayieyam, Amfobea and Sumaila all failed to make it count when they had chances to make it 2-0.
The Black Queens are set to face Mali in their second game on Tuesday, same day Algeria play Cameroon.