A strong-hearted numerical-disadvantaged Ampem Darkoa Ladies from Ghana yesterday booked their place in the final of the 2022 WAFU-B Women’s Champions League qualifiers after upstaging hosts Africa Sports d’Abidjan 6-5 on penalties.
The game ended 1-1 at the Stade Yamoussoukro after the stipulated haul with the extra time too failing to produce a winner.
The Ghanaians played cautiously from the start, showing some respect to the home team who enjoyed some massive support.
Somehow, Ampem Darkoa Ladies failed to find the needed rhythm as Africa Sports attacked in droves in a bid to steal the lead. It was only a matter of time that the Ivorians scored the first goal before the break. The goal energised the hosts who attacked in bursts but the Ghanaian ladies defended gallantly to end the half. But even before then, Anesthesia Achiaa and Comfort Yeboah came close to scoring for the Ghanaian champions.
Back from recess, Coach Nana Adarkwa reorganised her charges who looked more composed. Thrillingly, Gladys Amfobea pulled even for the Darkoa Ladies after a finicky move. Sadly, six minutes after the leveler, disaster struck Ampem Darkoa when Ophelia Amponsah was shown the marching-off orders after a dangerous challenge.
With a numerical advantage, the Africa Sports Ladies pushed more bodies forward but failed to grab the winner as the two sides plunged into a goalless extra-time of 30 minutes.
Many Ghanaian fans may have given up ahead of the penalty kicks, in view of the bitter memories recorded by Ghana against their Ivorian counterparts at the men’s African Cup of Nations final (1992 and 2015) between the two countries.
However, Ampem Darkoa held their nerves and converted beautifully as the hosts wasted their final kick – following a heroic save by substitute goalkeeper Safiatu Salifu, to push her side through.
Scorers for the Ghanaian ladies were Comfort Yeboah, Priscilla Okyere, Elizabeth Owusu, Mavis Owusu, Gladys Amfobea and Justice Tweneboah.
As of press time, Nigerian side Bayelsa Queens and Benin club Espoir FC were battling it out in a late semis kick off. Winner of the final on Saturday will make it to the CAF Women’s Champions League slated for Morocco later in the year.
By Linus Siaw Nartey