The Black Queens of Ghana yesterday defeated the Les Pantherese of Gabon 2-0 at the Accra Sports Stadium to advance to the next stage of the 2020 Olympic Games football qualifiers on a 5-0 aggregate.
The Queens will next the Harambee Startets of Kenya in the next round of qualifiers.
A goal in each half was enough to get the confident Black Queens through after heading into the game with a 3-0 advantage secured at their opponents’ backyard about a week ago.
Their confidence paid off in the early minutes of the game when skipper Portia Boakye comfortably lobbed the ball over an onrushing Gabonese goalkeeper, Okila Ndzila to score in the 15th minute.
The lead was almost doubled immediately but striker Pokua Milot Abena recorded what could pass as the ‘miss of the century’ when she fired off the empty post after dribbling the goalkeeper.
The Queens kept probing for more goals and in the process created several goal scoring opportunities but over elaboration and complacency on their side, denied them from putting the game to bed in the first 30.
Against a Gabonese opposition that barely put three passes together, the Queens kept the sparse crowd spell-bound with their strange misses from free headers which and misfiring in the goal area of the opponents.
Against the run of play, the Gabonese nearly equalized in the 40th minute after benefitting from a defensive blunder but Ghana’s goalie Dumenasi Fafali managed to stop Bouyi Nbagon from finding the back of the net at close range.
The Gabonese continued from where they left off and put up an improved second half show and hit the post in the 52nd minute to send shivers down the spine of the Ghanaians.
That appeared to have quickened the Queens who took over the game with some brilliant exchanges from defense to attack.
Their dominance paid off in the 75th minute through a thunderous strike from about 30 yards by Juliet Acheampong which went straight into the net of the Gabonese to give the Ghanaians the deserved cushioning.
It then became a balanced game as the visitors became more composed at the back to prevent further damages by the Queens who were having a good time on the field.
The Gabonese almost succumbed to the pressure from their host in additional time but substitute Priscilla Okyere left them off the hook when she fired wide at close range.
However, Yog Atouth from Gabon was the standout player for his team as she won some 50/50 balls in midfield and made some surging runs despite his diminutive size.
The Queens would go into the next stage against Kenya beaming with confidence in their quest to make it to Tokyo 2020.
Skipper Portia Boakye shoot past goalkeeper Marie Ndzila Okila for the opener Photo: RAYMOND ACKUMEY
BY MICHAEL D.ABAYATEYE