Source: isports360.com | December 21, 2018
Defending champions El-Sharkia booked a place in the final of the 2018 ACCC after seeing off Exchequers in an action-packed encounter at the Abuja National Stadium, Hockey Pitch – package B. The champions who are in search of their 24th title depicted why they are the record title holders.
However, GRA restored hope for team Ghana as they came from behind to beat Eastern Company in the last game of the day.
The match day began with Exchequers hoping to get a win in their fixture against El-Sharkia. The 2018 Ghana League Champions who needed a win so badly in order to bolster their chances of playing in the final started on a convincing note. With so much pressure mounted inside the opening minutes, Exchequers were awarded a penalty corner and after three shots on target, finally got the opener from Arthur Ebenezer.
El-Sharkia were caught off guard and for the first time in this competition, the Champions concede first. The lead did not last long as Hussain Reda leveled the scores two minutes to end the first quarter. Exchequers went ahead again from the penalty corner and this time had it right on the first attempt courtesy Ankomah Emmanuel. End of First Quarter and the Ghana League Champions led 2-1.
The story was different in the second quarter though. Two goals inside five minutes and El-Sharkia took the lead; Ahmed Ahmed Mohamed getting the equaliser before skipper Edres El Sayed made it 3-2 with a well-taken penalty corner. Ankomah Emmanuel scored his second of the day to tie the game.
El-Sharkia restored their lead after Osmanu Mohammed in defence for Exchequers gifted Mohamed Ahmed a pass and the Egyptian International made no mistake to slot the ball home. Exchequers once again equalized with Ankomah Emmanuel this time the provider setting up Elikem Akaba. Exchequers began mounting pressure on El-Sharkia who seemed to be exhausted.
Exchequers thought they had won a penalty corner after the ball hit the foot of Edres Sayed in the scoring circle but umpire Jibrin Kolo denied them that great moment. Fast break from defense and Sharkia won a penalty corner. Edres converted to register his fifth goal of the tournament. Mohamed Ahmed got his third of day after a defensive blunder from Exchequers five minutes from time.
Elikem Akaba reduced the deficit for Exchequers in the 56th minute with the final four minutes dicey for both clubs. Exchequers were yet again denied a penalty corner by Umpire Jibrin Kolo to send the entire Exchequers bench into wild mood. With too many men upfront, Exchequers left their defence open and Ahmed Gamal took advantage of an Osmanu Mohammed slip to put the game beyond reach for the bankers. Twelve goals scored and El-Sharkia were heading to their third final in four years.
The second spot in the final was to be decided in no other than the next game between Eastern Company and GRA. With both teams sharing the spoils when they met in Ghana 2017, this was a decider for them.
The Ghanaian club with the pride and hope of the entire nation on their shoulder knew they must deliver and not disappoint. Any other result apart from a GRA win will send Eastern Company to the final irrespective of GRA’S outstanding game and that the Ghanaians could not afford.
The match stared on a very low tempo with both teams very tactical and weary of the other. The first two quarters were exhausted and the deadlock was yet to be broken. However, the final 20 minutes of the game had more to offer than the opening 40.
Eastern Company were awarded penalty corner after Ernest Opoku impeded Ibrahim Amr who was on the counter break for Eastern company. Tournament’s top scorer, Aboutaleb Mahmoud took the responsibility and with an excellent drag flick gave Eastern the lead. GRA regrouped and with Eastern down by two men began mounting pressure. It yielded and they were awarded a penalty corner. Salya Nsalbini stepped up to take and GRA leveled. Eastern Company were about rejoicing with a minute to play when Akuamoah Micheal broke their hearts with with a brilliant strike. 59 minutes played and GRA were historically one foot away in the final. The match ended with the entire stadium in jubilant mood as an all Egyptian final was not going to be.
GRA still maintain their third position, one point behind Eastern Company but the Ghanaians have a game in hand.
MATCH DAY FIVE RESULTS
Exchequers 5 – 7 El-Sharkia
Eastern Company 1 – 2 GRA