On the day that their country was celebrating the 64th Independence Day, Ghana’s Black Satellites delivered the ultimate gift, wrapped up in the form of the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title after a 2-0 win over debutants Uganda in the final in Nouakchott on Saturday.
Skipper Daniel Afriyie led from the front, and had a military salute dance to celebrate on each occasion, as Ghana clinched the fourth Under-20 continental title, and a first since their last conquest in 2009.
The Black Satellites replicated the same score-line the two countries posted when they last met in a continental final, this being in the 1978 senior Cup of Nations. By design or coincidence, it was also another Afriyie, this time Opoku, who scored twice for the senior Ghanaians.
Ghana went to the break a goal to the good, and deservedly so after coming off an early scare to score through Afriyie. Uganda were faster off the blocks and should have scored after three minutes when a long ball caught the run of Derrick Kakooza, but his lob over the keeper went over.
Almost immediately, Uganda had another chance with Isma Muguusi’s grass cutter going wide.
But after dodging the bullet twice, the Ghanaians woke from their slumber.
They had the bar denying them twice in succession off an Abdul Fatawu Issahaku corner. First, Percious Boah’s connection came off the bar and from the rebound, Nathaniel Adjei also sent a shot across the bar.
The Ugandans were jittery in defending set pieces and the Ghana side constantly sought out corners but couldn’t stretch the lead further. Fatawu tried to open up the deadlock with a well taken freekick from distance, but Jack Komakech had it covered.
The Ugandans ultimately faltered on a setpiece, Afriyie sneaking in at the near post to flick in a header off Fatawu’s corner.
It was just the goal they needed as they played with more confidence and Uganda looked stunned as they panicked on the ball and for some moments, forgot their ball playing nature.
Ghana took the opportunity to pin them on their backs and they had another go at goal in the 31st minute but Patrick Mensah’s low shot from 20 yards out was well saved by the keeper.
The Black Satellites needed just five minutes into the second half to dent any Ugandan hopes of a comeback, Afriyie completing his brace.
Uganda kept the hunt for the two goals, but couldn’t crack to score with Ghana seeing out the result for a jubilant end to a happy Independence Day.