After a concerted effort to move against the odds and make an impact, the Nigerian local senior soccer side, the Super Eagles finally bowed out of the CHAN tournament, losing to the Black Stars of Ghana in the semi final match played in Free States Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa. Playing before an estimated 12,560 crowd the Black Stars won the tough decider with 10 men after Kwabena Adusei was given marching orders for a second reckless tackle on Abubakar Ibrahim.
Led by Captain Christianus Uzuenyi, the Eagles started the match with a lot of gusto creating several chances but also coming close to conceding in the early minutes. Ghana was let off the hook in the 19th minute when Ibrahim Abubakar's shot hit the bar sending the Ghanaians into defense mode. This was after skipper and playmaker Chrisantus Ejike Uzuenyi appeared to have fainted after colliding with a Ghanaian player and being wheeled to the side for medical attention.
The Nigerians had several chances to bury the ball in the Ghanaian net but failed to take advantage of the defensive bloopers by the Ghanaian defense.
Striker Ifeanyi Ede missed a yawning chance to put Nigeria ahead but fluffed it after going round 2 Ghanaian defenders. He was substituted by Barnabas Imenger soon after this.
Imengar who plies his trade for Lobi Stars would however also go on to squander a few chances of his own, depriving the team of a much needed win.
The grueling exchanges continued in a ding-dong fashion; each side determined not to let down their guard until the fourth referee signaled 4 minutes of time added on and subsequently extra time.
Ugonna Uzochukwu nearly nailed it for the Eagles in extra time but his header was ably handled by Ghanaian goalie Stephen Adams.
The game ended goalless after extra time, pushing it into penalties.
Ghanaian goalkeeper Adams was on cue once more to save Kwambe Solomon’s kick. Ugonna Uzochukwu also kicked the ball over the bar whilst the Ghanaians converted all 4 kicks to propel them to the finals.
Final Score was 4-1 in favor of the Black Stars.
Samuel Ainooson of Kumasi Asante Kotoko was adjudged the Man of the match.
Nigeria will now play Zimbabwe for bronze on Saturday 1st February at 17h00 as a precursor to the big final between Ghana and Libya.