Ghana’s senior female football team, the Black Queens, yesterday gained a 2-1 advantage over Tunisia in the first leg of their final round African Women’s Championship (AWC) qualifiers.
It was a dramatic comeback for the Queens who had to fight from a goal down , and playing with 10 players, to win, courtesy goals in the second half from Samira Suleman and Princella Adubea.
With this result, the Queens will secure their 10th AWC ticket even if they draw in the second leg next Tuesday in Accra.
The win was not an easy one as the Queens had to overcome some controversial officiating from Senegalese referee Fatou Thione, who completely had it wrong in awarding two penalties to the Tunisians, as well as sending goalkeeper Patricia Mantey off.
Right from the start of the game, the Tunisians advertised their intention to play it rough as well as adapt to the theatrical play synonymous with North African sides, yet they got away with it from the referee.
In one of such acts, the Tunisians earned a penalty on the 35th minute when a Tinisian striker having missed the ball, fell right before defender Janet Egyir, suggesting she had been fouled. Without consulting her assistant, the referee, who was quite far away from the action spot, pointed to the penalty box for a penalty, which was converted by Ella Kabaachi. Egyir was further shown a yellow card.
The goal brought more spring into the Tunisians’ game, giving them complete edge over the Queens till the end of the first half.
Coach Yussif Basigi’s pep talk in the dressing room might have worked the magic for the Queens who resumed the second half with more urgency, taking the game to the Tunisians and within four minutes of the restart, equalised with Suleman’s brilliant connection from a freekick.
Both sides then pushed for the possible winner, and it almost came the way of the hosts as the referee yet again awarded a penalty after ruling that goalkeeper Mantey had tripped the Tunisian player. However, the replay proved that there was no contact, when the player fell. In addition to the penalty, Mantey saw red and was replaced by Nana Ama Asantewaa after Wasila Diwura-Soale was withdrawn.
Asantewaa was immediately called to duty and she excelled as she parried the kick from the penalty, leaving the Tunisians to rue the missed chance.
And they were forced to curse their stars as Adubea, in her typical speed, took her two markers on, closed in on the goalkeeper and calmly slot the ball in to snatch the winner for the Queens with only about six minutes to the end.
The Queens return to Accra tomorrow to prepare for the second leg on Tuesday.