Ghana’s Medeama revived their semi-finals hopes after beating Young Africans of Tanzania 3-1 in their Group A Day 4 fixture on Tuesday at the Essipong Stadium in Sekondi.
Going into the game, both teams were yet to record a single victory at the group stage and the maximum points was crucial for either side as far as their progress was concerned.
Host Medeama kicked off and mounted early pressure on their opponents in search for an early goal that will calm the nerve of their vociferous fans. And they almost had it in the first minute through Eric Kwakwa. The forward was put through by Akwasi Donsu, but after dribbling past Nadir Haroub Ali, his shot missed the goal by inches with goalkeeper Deogratias Munish, already beaten.
Pressure from Medeama eventually paid off in the 6th minute when Daniel Amoah coolly planted the ball at the back of the net after an interposition play with Bernard Ofori and Kwesi Donsu.
The goal gingered the Medeama players to fight for more goals as they dominated play and nearly doubled two minutes later when a penalty was awarded them after Yanga’s Kevin Patrick Yondani fouled Atta Agyei in the vital area.
Captain Malik Akowuah elected himself for the penalty, but Yanga goalkeeper Munish was equal to the task as he punched the ball back into play and it was eventually cleared to safety.
Then on Young Africans found their rhythm with the equalizer at the back of their minds, but lacked the final bite in terms of scoring.
In the 22nd minute, the Ghanaians increased the tally from with a well-worked goal by Mohammed Abass, making it 2-0.
However, their joy was short-lived as Young Africans pulled a goal back few minutes later via a penalty after Daniel Amoah brought down an opponent in the penalty box, with Saimon Msuva beating Daniel Agyei from the spot.
The host quickly rallied back to take control of the game and restored their two-goal lead with a second by Mohammed to end the first half 3-1.
Back from recess, the tempo of the game dropped though both sides served out an end to end performance to the fans present at the stadium.
Young Africans made two changes with Kevin Patrick Yondani and Juma Abdul Mnyamani coming on for Juma Mahadhi and Amissi Tambwe respectively.
Medeama on the other hand also made two changes. Two-goal hero Abass Mohammed was pulled out for Bismark Oppong, whilst Eric Kwakwa made way for Kwame Boahene.
The story in terms of goalscoring did not change as the game ended 3-1 in favour of Medeama who still remain in third place on the standings whilst Yanga are still without a win and rest at the bottom of the table with just a point.
However, the position of the top three teams could change after Wednesday’s other Group A fixture between TP Mazembe and MO Bejaia in Lubumbashi.
Hans Van der Pluijm (Head coach, Young Africans)
It was a difficult match looking at the way we started and conceded that early goal. But we managed to get the team together to play like we planned, that is why even after we conceded the second goal, we did not defend but fought to get a goal. I believe that we could have got something out of this game especially in the second half when we played better and created more chances.
It is not a lost cause for my team because the players have gained some experience and we believe that the remaining two matches will be much positive.
Haruna Fadhili Niyonzima (Midfielder, Young Africans)
We lost the game in Tanzania as we failed to beat them in the first leg. This is a competition that most of the teams are stronger at home and we failed to get all the points at home. We played better, especially in the second half and I feel we should have scored a second and even gone ahead to pick a point, but that is football and we will go back and prepare for our next game.
Prince Yaw Owusu (Head Coach, Medeama)
Like I said before the game, we have our destiny in our own hands if indeed we want to move to the next stage of the competition, and we showed it, right from the blast of the whistle. We got two early goals that unsettled them, but I feel we could have gotten more.
The second half was much difficult for my boys because our opponents corrected their mistakes from the first half and managed to hold us in the second. The scoreline (3-1) is a good result, but I feel we should have won by a wider margin. It’s a good win and I want to congratulate my boys. We will see what comes up next in our game in this competition.
Daniel Adjei (Goalkeeper, Medeama)
We knew before this game that if we did not win today then the rest of the matches will just be formalities and I thank God we won. It was a tough match but we managed to hold on to pick all three points. This is a competition and for us, all hope is not lost.
Source: Confederation of African Football.