Burkina Faso beat Ghana 3-2 in penalty shootout after the two teams were tied 1-1 after extra-time. What a game and what a referee! This is the game of the tournament that will linger for years to come in many fans’ minds across the continent – the game which Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi did his best to turn in favour of the Black Stars, but unfortunately for him destiny decided otherwise.
The Stallions will be in an Afcon final for the first time in their history.
A disappointed Paul Put, Stallions coach from Belgium, could not hide his unhappiness when he said after the game that the best player was the referee.
An unsettled and anxious-looking Jedidi gave Ghana a ‘generous’ penalty in the first half, whistled where it was not meant to whistle, and denied Burkina Faso what looked like a valid goal and a penalty. And if that was not enough, he unnecessarily red-carded a Burkina Faso player, Jonathan Pitroipa, when the hard-working striker thought a penalty was awarded to the Stallions. TV replays all over the world showed the Ghanaian player caught in the act of bringing Pitroipa down. Now the unfortunate player will miss the pulsating final on Sunday in Johannesburg thanks to Jedidi’s comic acts.
The 29th Orange Africa Cup of Nations has so far delivered a full package of beautiful shows to soccer fans across the continent. However, one critical point that needs to be raised here is the poor performance of referees in this tournament. Generous penalties were rewarded, valid penalties were not given, goals that should have stood were not allowed to stand, dubious decisions that have overshadowed a good show of football.
Anyway, Nigeria and Burkina Faso are in the final, and that is what matters the most. The two losing semi-finalists, Mali and Ghana, meet on Saturday for the bronze medal do-or-die game. Every Ghanaian will now pray for CAF to designate another Jedidi so that they can win the game the bronze medal.
The remaining shows must go on, regardless!
In the first game, Nigeria dumped Mali 4-1 thanks to goals from Echiejile, Ideye, Emenike and Ahmed Musa, while Diarra scored the consolidation goal for the Sahelians.
*Photo by Themba Hadebe/courtesy of Associated Press. The Stallions in celebration mood after the game.