Â *Ezenwa emerges tournamentâ€™s Best Goal KeeperÂ
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeriaâ€™s home-based Super Eagles lost the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations trophy to Black Stars of Ghana 4-1 last night.
Eagles failed to match the form that previously earned them 2-0 victory against the hosts in their last game Group AÂ on Monday. They were poor in every department of the WAFU Cup final except in the goal area where Ikechukwu Ezenwa did his best to emerge the Best Goal Keeper of the tournament.
Ezenwa kept clean sheet in Nigeriaâ€™s first four matches before poor defendingÂ Â exposed him to the four goals he conceded last night.
A brace from Stephen Sarfo, a penalty from Vincent Atingah and an injury time strike from Winnful Cobbinah handed the Black Stars the trophy they won last in 2013.
Nigeriaâ€™s consolation goal was scored by Rabiu Ali in the dying seconds of the added time from a free kick given few metres outside the 22metres box of the Black Stars.
Straight from kick off, the Ghanaians showed they were out to avenge that earlier group stage defeat. They mounted pressure on Eagles backline with the first t real effort on goal in the 15th minute courtesy of a long range strike from Emmanuel Lomotey. But his 25-yard effort sailed inches wide of the post.
Lomotey was in the thick of the action againÂ ten minutes later, pouncing on a loose ball inside the box but he was magnificently denied by the acrobatics of the Nigerian keeper from 14-yards out.
Ezenwa was definitely at his best in the 35th minute with another superb save, diving low to his left to turn a low 18-yard shot from Isaac Twum around the post.
Eagles flip-flop defending, with Stephen Eze, the biggest culprit, manifesting in series of the easy passages.
Central defender, Olamilekan Adeleye Aniyikaye, had to leave the field injured in the 40thÂ minute and was replaced by Emmanuel Ariwachukwu.
With the clock ticking for the end of the first half, Stephen Sarfo fired Ghana in front with a thunderous strike from the edge of the box.
The start of the second half failed to produce any fireworks until the 58th minute when substitute Patrick Razak was fouled inside the box, only a minute after coming on, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Vincent Atingah stepped up for the Ghanaians and doubled their lead with a well-placed spot-kick.
A reckless tackle by Stephen Eze on Patrick Razak as he was driving into the Nigerian box earned Ghana another penalty in the 77thÂ minute. Stephen Sarfo stepped-up for to score his second goal of the game to put the Black Stars 3-0 ahead.
The only down side for the Ghana was the expulsion of Vincent Atingah after receiving his second yellow card in the 90th minute.
Â Black Starsâ€™ fourth goal was scored by Winnful Cobbinah in the 93rd minute following a goalmouth scramble inside the box. Rabiu Aliâ€™s lone goal for Nigeria was the last kick of the game watched by CAF President, Ahmad and some of his executive committee members.
In the third place match played earlier,Â Niger republic defeated Benin 2-1 to win the bronze of the tournament.