CAIRO: In line with football fans’ expectations, Ghana and Brazil are going head to head for the U-20 World Cup title next Friday at Cairo Stadium after fierce semi-final battles against Hungary and Costa Rica.
Dominic Adiyah of Ghana continued his outstanding streak scoring a brace to lead his side to a 3-2 victory against an exhausted Hungarian team.
We re not surprised by our performance because we played really well in the qualifying competition in Rwanda and we ve had continuity and consistency here, said Sellas Tetteh, Ghana s coach.
Ghana had their first attempt to score from a long range shot by Mohamed Rabiu before Adiyah scored Ghana s first in the eighth minute from a follow up on a slow pass from the Hungarian defense that Peter Gulacsi, the Hungarian keeper, couldn t reach.
Adiyah again missed another attempt in the 13th minute after his shot from inside the box went just wide.
Ghanaian attacks continued as Andre Ayew provided his team with lethal balls and posed a permanent threat to Hungarian defense. On the other hand, Hungary seemed helpless and posed no threat to Ghanaian keeper, Daniel Agyei.
Adiyah scored his second from a perfect cross from the right flank tipping himself as man of the match for his team. Following the goal, Hungary tried to pressure Ghana but strikers Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon were isolated with almost no balls reaching them.
Ayew continued to impress, dribbling through Hungarian defense only to find the Hungarian defender interfering at the last moment.
Ransford Osei’s shots were a constant test for Gulacsi during the first half after missing twice.
In the second half, Hungary started to show offensive abilities controlling the ball and wasting a couple of chances.
While Ghana relied on Abeiko Quansah on the right side, the African representatives started to gradually return to the game after Ayew was replaced with striker Opoku Agyemang.
As both teams competed in wasting chances, it wasn t until the 73rd minute when Marco Futcas scored Hungary s first after a series of passes inside Ghana s box.
The match took another turn after the goal as Hungarian pressure mounted with the aim of grabbing the equalizer, but as attacks increased, defenses opened; from a counter attack in the 81st minute when Quansah took a ball from the right wing and fired a strong shot to score Ghana s third.
Hungary responded quickly in the 84th minute through Adam Balajti who dribbled through Ghanaian defenders and sent a slow shot in the right corner to return his side to the game again.
The remaining six minutes witnessed continuous pressure from the Hungarians but their efforts were unsuccessful as the Africans celebrated victory.
We were under pressure and we came through. We played a great first half and went two goals up but we gave the ball away too much in the second period and started having problems, Tetteh said.
In the second semi-final, Brazil s talent clashed with Costa Rican tactical discipline which ended with a hard fought 1-0 victory for the South Americans.
Above all, I m delighted that the players have achieved our goal of reaching the final. They must be congratulated, as getting through six matches in a row is no easy feat, said Rogerio Lourenco, Brazil s coach.
With the first round match ending 5-0 for Brazil, Costa Rica started the match with more defensive tendencies which succeeded in killing any danger the Brazilians could have formed.
Our 5-0 defeat against Brazil in the group stage was in the back of our minds, and we were determined to avoid another heavy reverse, Ronald Gonzalez, Costa Rica team coach, said after the game.
Helpless in front of Costa Rican defense, Brazil was forced to play in midfield. As time passed, no real chances occurred for both teams.
The first play of the game was a free kick in the 15th minute by David Guzman which Brazilian keeper Rafael saved heroically.
Fans in Cairo Stadium had to wait until the 42nd minute to see a Brazilian response through Souza s long range shot that went beside the post, Souza s attempt was followed by a header from a corner kick that Esteban Alvarado tipped away.
From a counter attack with two players only, Costa Rica had a chance to break the deadlock if it wasn t for brilliant Brazilian defending.
In the second half, Costa Rica opened up and started attacking, with a shot from Daniel Varela that went close. Brazil quickly responded through Souza who had a shot from a very close distance but Alvarado made a quick reflex and saved the ball.
In the 67th minute, Alan Kardec secured his team s ticket to the final after he received a cross inside the box and fired a direct shot that Alvarado could only see in the back of his net.
Following the goal, Costa Rica had no choice but to increase their attacks but their efforts couldn t change the score, despite Gonzalez s substitutions. It s a performance that gives us great confidence for the future. Some defeats can bring great hope, and this was one of them, Gonzalez said.
I know we didn t play well, but what mattered was reaching the final, nothing else, Lourenco said.
Hungary and Costa Rica play for third place before Ghana and Brazil go head to head in the final on Friday.