Christian Atsu leads Ghana to African Cup of Nations semifinals

BY foxsports • February 1, 2015

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea -- Christian Atsu scored two goals and Kwesi Appiah added another Sunday to help Ghana advance to the African Cup semifinals for the fifth straight time with a 3-0 victory over Guinea.

Atsu, who plays in England for Everton, put the Black Stars ahead in the fourth minute by scoring after a backheel pass from Andre Ayew. He added another in the 61st, whipping in a shot from the right side.

Appiah scored the second goal of the match in the 44th, controling a horrible defensive mistake from Baissama Sankoh and beating Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara.

''For us, I think we had a winning mentality,'' Atsu said. ''We went for a win and we worked hard for it. That's why we won the game. Not because they are a bad team. We went for a win. That's all.''

Guinea finished the match with 10 men after Yattara was given a red card in injury time for a foul on Asamoah Gyan. Abdoulaye Cisse then played in goal for the final seconds.

Ghana, a four-time champion which last reached the African Cup of Nations final in 2010 but lost to Egypt, will next face host Equatorial Guinea in the semifinals on Thursday in Malabo.

''Now we start to prepare for Equatorial Guinea. We saw their game yesterday in the hotel,'' Ghana coach Avram Grant said. ''Now we will watch DVDs and learn about them.

''But most important for us is our game.''

Ghana came into the match as the favorite, and needed only a few minutes to take the lead. Appiah took the ball down the left side before passing to Ayew in the area, and the Marseille forward then used his heel to slide the ball to Atsu for the goal.

The match slowed for most of the next 40 minutes, with Guinea captain Ibrahima Traore doing his best to create chances for his team.

''We lost a goal almost from kickoff, which hurt our confidence, and then lost another goal just before break,'' Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer said. ''It makes things complicated against a team with the talent of Ghana.''

Ghana has been one of the best teams in Africa in recent years, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2010 World Cup to go along with its string of semifinal appearances at the African Cup. The Black Stars last won the African tournament in 1982.

Grant, who previously coached Chelsea and took the London club to the Champions League final in 2008 after replacing Jose Mourinho, was hired as coach of Ghana in late 2014.

Guinea needed a touch of luck just to make it this far. The team finished tied with Mali after both teams drew 1-1 in all three Group D matches. But Guinea advanced after winning a drawing of lots on Thursday.

Just qualifying for the 2015 tournament was a surprise for many, however. Guinea is one of the three worst affected countries of the Ebola outbreak and the national team was forced to play its home qualifying matches outside its borders.

''We need to put things into perspective, Ghana are a great team,'' Dussuyer said. ''We go out with regrets in this match but must not forget the road we have come down before today.''

share story