Ten-man Ghana romped to a 4-1 win over Nigeria in the final of the 2017 Wafu Cup of Nations at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Sunday.
A brace from Berekum Chelsea striker Stephen Sarfo and goals from Vincent Atingah and Winful Cobbinah were all what the hosts needed to put smiles on the faces of the home fans.
With each player eligible to face the Super Eagles, coach Maxwell Konadu did not field a patched-up setup but maintained the squad that defeated Niger in the semifinals while Nigeria welcomed back Stephen Eze, who missed the semis.
A dominant start from Nigeria to Sunday’s final kept Ghana pegged firmly back in their half and they began to cause troubles for the hosts’ defence but were lacking the killer pass. Emmanuel Lomotey brought down Anthony Okpotu just outside the box by the fourth minute, however, Rabiu Ali saw his resulting shot calmly saved by goalkeeper Joseph Addo.
Okpotu and Ali continued their dominance upfront and it took Ghana 15 minutes before they could make their first shot on target through Lomotey before Atingah was booked two minutes later for a bad tackle.
By the 32nd minute, Kizito connected a pass from Waja but the striker’s effort took a huge deflection before Cobbinah’s went inches wide.
Nigeria made their first substitution on 38th minute with Ariwachukwu Emmanuel coming on for defender Adeleye Olamilekan after the latter picked an injury following a tackle. The incident sapped some of the life from Nigeria’s play as they began to sit off and try to exploit the counter-attack.
They appeared wary of committing too many players forward to capitalise on their momentum but Ghana soon took the lead by the 43rd minute.
Stephen Sarfo picked Lomotey’s rebound and beat two defenders before sending his effort beyond the reach of goalkeeper Enzenwa.
After the break, Super Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf brought Gabriel Okechukwu on for Friday John and they began to control the game. Uche Akas’ cross on 52nd minute was blocked, with Isaac Twum stopping Ali’s progress.
Ghana’s Patrick Razak replaced Gideon Waja by the 57th minute and the Hearts of Oak star made his presence felt immediately with his first touch. The winger latched onto a pass and dribbled past Aremu Afeez Olalekan before he was tripped in the box. Despite the protests launched by Nigeria, the referee called for a penalty which Atinga executed perfectly to make it 2-0 for the hosts on the hour mark.
Eze brought down Razak in the box on 76th minute for the second penalty which was transformed by Sarfo to take his tournament tally to four goals.
Konadu’s men were now soaring with Nigeria struggling to contain them. However, Atingah was shown a red card against the run of play. The centre-back held Ali’s shirt and received his second booking of the day in additional time.
Razak was ever present despite the numerical disadvantage and forced goalkeeper Ezenwa to commit a blunder, with the midfielder dragging the ball back to Cobbinah, who calmly tapped it into the net for the fourth goal of the day.
Ali scored a consolation for Nigeria through a wonderful free-kick.
Ghana, aside lifting the trophy, will be awarded $100,000 as cash prize while Nigeria take home $50,000.