Grant, Ayew blame referee for defeat to Egypt

Ghana striker Andre Ayew is beaten to the ball by Egypt midfielder Tarek Hamed in Port-Gentil

Ghana striker Andre Ayew is beaten to the ball by Egypt midfielder Tarek Hamed in Port-Gentil

Ghana Coach, Avram Grant and the Black Stars’ Deputy skipper, Andre Ayew have blamed referee Bakary Gassama for Ghana’s 1-0 defeat to Egypt on Wednesday night in their final Group D match of the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Gabon.

Grant slammed Africa’s top referee for what he termed ‘strange decisions’ during the match that saw the Ghanaians suffer a second successive defeat in the hands of the Egyptians.

Egypt grabbed the top spot in Group D as Mohammed Salah rifled home a superb free kick to seal the 1-0 victory over Ghana in Port Gentil.

However, some dodgy decisions by Africa’s best referee, which nearly let to a pitch invasion by supporters, is what has irked the Israeli coach.

The Gambian official, who was voted Africa’s best, turned a blind eye to several calls for free-kicks as well as two penalty calls for Ghana in the game.

This was after the Black Stars had lifted their game in the second half hoping to draw level but the referee’s decisions frustrated the Israeli.

Grant says he was surprised by the decisions of the referee but hailed his players for an improved second-half showing.

“My players fought very hard in the second half but some strange decisions by the referee did not help our cause,” Grant said at a post match press conference.

Andre Ayew told the media that “refereeing should have been better” at that level of African football.

“Refereeing should have been better towards us,” Ayew told BeIN Sports channel after the game, without elaborating further.

According to the West Ham attacker, the Black Stars were dominant and made frantic efforts to cancel the lead and finally get the leader but were frustrated greatly by the performance of the referee.

“We were dominant for long spells especially in the second half. Egypt didn’t create many clear-cut chances apart from the free-kick goal.”

Egypt’s win sets up a quarter-final meeting with Morocco at the same venue on Sunday while Ghana travels to Oyem to face Group C winners, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Egypt won a free kick inside the opening 10 minutes after a clumsy challenge by John Boye on Abdallah El Said and Salah stepped up to hammer the ball through the wall.

Their 44-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary was largely untroubled, though he did well to deny Christian Atsu and Jordan Ayew.

Seven-times winners Egypt, marking their return to the tournament after a seven-year absence, were the only team not to concede a goal in the pool phase.-Ghanasoccernet

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