On this day 21 November 1965(Exactly 55 years ago today) Ghana retained the Africa Cup of Nations Championship title by beating Tunisia 3-2 after extra-time in the final of the fifth Africa Cup of Nations at the 25,000 seat Chadles Stadium in Tunisia.
It was a game of confidence for the Stars, of courage against enthusiastic massive home support for the Tunisians and one of a battle against the odds of strong winds in a chilly weather.
Leading by a lone goal at half time in the spectacular match of equals, a match of artistic soccer and counter- attacks both teams drew 2-2 at the end of stipulated 90 minutes.
The Black Stars scored the winning goal during the 20 minutes extra time.
The Chadles Stadium was packed to capacity as Ghana, the defending champions and Tunisia, the host country took to the field.
The match began with the Tunisians pilling on the pressure, attack from each flank with an apparent ease and, backed by the prevailing strong wind, harassed the Black Stars who played the opening minutes of the game without much precision.
In the fifteenth minute, however, the Stars came into the picture in a grand style, attacking rather than playing defensive as before. The ball moved from one player to another, disorganising the home team’s defence for a while.
It was not unexpected that a clever move initiated by adroit Osei Kofi ended with Odoi slamming home the first goal of the match for Ghana in the 24th minute to silence the enthusiastic Tunisians whose nationalist feelings became emminent as the home team attacked.
With this early lead, the Stars held on gallantly, braving the strong wind along their opponents who playing against a background of massive home support, seemed sure of victory but upset by Ghana’s surprising lead.
With a goal down the Tunisians returned for the second half to assume complete control of the game. With Ghana’s defence chiefly pivoted around veteran Addo Odametey under extreme pressure. But, undeterred by the cold weather, the Stars exchewed the dangerous manouvres of the Tunisians in the match that was nothing short of the best ever seen in North Africa since the beginning of the tournament.
The pressure pilled by the Tunisians on the Stars forced the Ghanaians to concede three corner kicks between the opening minutes. But goalkeeper Naawu apparently taking inspiration from the Ghana flag hoisted behind the post stood firmly and saved what almost looked like perfect break through by the home team.
The Tunisians, taking advantage of the acclimatised weather forced the equaliser to thunderous applause by the packed stadium for well over three minutes.
It was a demonstration of a deep sense of nationalism for firmly rooted in neighbour liness.
Little Osei Kofi, who had been clearly marked out by the Tunisians, allowed his colleagues in the forward line to move forward. But, his solo moves were exceptionally dangerous for the Tunisians.
With the wind unavoidably deflecting most of the Stars’ passes. The Tunisians took the lead from the Stars barely after equaliser. And it was all jubilation, putting the Stars’ defence under great pressure.
Indeed, when the Tunisians moved the ball into the Stars own half of the field, it was a very tricky excercise. But the Stars were unruffled at all.
They were cool, calm and collected and played good football.
Leading 2-1, the Tunisians provided a solid defence against the Stars incessant raids heading any defence ball over the touch line in what seemed like ‘killing time’.
Nevertheless, this Stars found the equaliser in the 79th minute through Osei Kofi who shot with brilliance to beat a row of Tunisian defenders.
Ghana’s second goal saw a festive mood not dissimilar from the happiness that greets a relative home from a tour as the stars, almost eight of them, made a ring around Osei Kofi patting him on the shoulders and congratulating themselves.
And Naawu, in Ghana’s goal was highly spirited to make beautiful saves with imagination and lesson of giving the Tunisians, the lucky equaliser in the opening minutes of the second half.
Ghana’s victory made certain in the extra 20 minutes allowed.
The Black Stars were physically stronger and tactically superior team. But they had to fight, and this they did expertly to beat the determined Tunisians
Ghana: ( Frank Odoi 24, 96)
( Osei Kofi 79)
Tunisia: Abdelmajid Chetali (47)
Tahar Chaïbi (67)
Ghana: John Bortey Naawu, Ben Kusi, Charles Addo Odametey, Sam Acquah, Willie Evans, Kwame Nti, Eric Oman Mensah, Osei Kofi, Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, Kofi Pare,Frank Odoi.
Coach: Charles Kumi Gyamfi
Tunisia: Sadok Sassi ‘Attouga’, Mahfoudh Benzarti, Ahmed Lamine, Mohsen Habacha, Hédi Douiri,Moncef Ajel, Aleya Sassi, Rachid Gribaâ (Abdelwahab Lahmar), Abdelmajid Chetali,Tahar Chaïbi, Mohammed Salah Jedidi.
Coach: Mokhtar Ben Nacef
Referee: Abdelaziz Chekaïmi (Algeria)
By: George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah