Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations adventure came to an end on Monday night at the hands of Tunisia, who progressed courtesy of a 5-4 penalty shootout victory.
With substitute striker Caleb Ekuban missing the Black Stars’ second penalty in the shootout, it fell to midfielder Ferjani Sassi to score the decisive penalty. The Zamalek midfielder kept his nerve to wrongfoot Richard Ofori and send Tunisian fans into ecstasy.
Ghana had begun the game on a positive note, and created a few decent openings. Most memorably, Kassim Nuhu’s header from a corner came back off the frame of the goal, before Atletico Madrid star Thomas Partey saw his fierce drive from distance beaten away by Mouez Hassen.
The second half was, however, an inversion of the first, as it was Tunisia who forced the better openings. Ghana goalkeeper Ofori was inspired, turning a rasping effort from substitute Wahbi Khazri over the crossbar, and then seeing a header from the resulting corner strike the upright.
Unlike Ghana, Tunisia would make their spell count in the 73rd minute. Full-back Wajdi Kechrida burst forward from the back to receive a pass from Khazri, before playing a low cross into the box for striker Taha Yassine Khenissi to slam home at the near post.
Ghana pushed for an equalizer, and should have had one when Jordan Ayew found himself in a good position inside the box, but headed the ball wide of the target. They would get it deep into stoppage time, and in unlikely circumstances: Rami Bedoui, sent on to help see out the lead, contrived to somehow head the ball past Hassen and into his own goal.
After a scoreless extra-time period, came penalties. Ekuban would prove the villain for Ghana, as his low spot-kick was very easily smothered. Tunisia, perfect from the spot, advance to the Quarter-final where they will face surprise package Madagascar.