Great comebacks in Ghanaian football history

Pulse Sports' Thomas Freeman Yeboah takes you through some of the most remarkable comebacks in football, with great emphasis on Ghanaian football.

Most clubs who manage to stage incredible comebacks might have been inspired by half time pep talks, as well as complacency on the part of the side in a comfortable lead, but they rarely happen.

Generally, about 70% of teams that earn at least two or three-goal advantages in the first leg of a two-legged ties go on to emerge victorious, but there still remains the unusual 30% scenario of inexplicable comebacks.

On Wednesday night, Barcelona found themselves assuming the crown of football's greatest Comeback Kings, after overturning a 0-4 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg defeat away against Paris St. Germain with an unreal 6-1 victory at the Camp Nou.

This widely hailed feat has led to many football loving fans in Ghana and abroad eagerly searching for information on some of the finest comebacks in world football, with emphasis on the ones in Ghana.

Let's first start off with some stories from around the world, with this one from 63 years ago.

In the final of the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Berne, Switzerland, one of the greatest football teams the world has ever seen, the Mighty Magyars of Hungary, went two goals up against Germany.

With Hungary dominating beyond all doubt, everybody expected a repeat of an earlier group stage tie between the two teams - where Hungary whipped Germany 8-3 - but it was not to be. A miracle, later nicknamed 'The Miracle of Berne', ensued. The Germans, coached by Sepp Herbeger, came from two goals down to beat a Hungarian side with world superstars such as Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Kocsis and Nandor Hidegkuti to win 3-2.

The FIFA World Cup produced another sensational comeback in the 1966 edition. North Korea, who had stunned then two-time champions Italy to advance to the knockout stage, almost had a second upset when they went three goals up against Portugal. The Europeans, however fought from behind to win 5-3, with the great Eusebio scoring thrice to help Portugal stage a remarkable comeback.

In 2005, Liverpool FC of the England also wrote their names in the records books as one of the comeback lords in European football history, when they fought back from a 3-0 first half deficit in the final of the UEFA Champions League to draw level against AC Milan, subsequently winning on penalties in one of football's most shocking upsets.

A year earlier, Deportivo La Coruna had overturned a 1-4 first leg defeat against AC Milan by winning 4-0 in the second leg to oust the holders at the time from the competition in the quarter finals.

Ghana has also witnessed its own stories of impressive comebacks, especially in the CAF Champions League.

Hearts of Oak before reaching their maiden continental final in 1977 had to battle back from a 2-5 first leg defeat in the semi-finals against Mufiurira Wanderers of Zambia. They won the return leg 3-0 in Accra, and it was done in a grand style: by the 60th minute mark the score line stood at 0-0, but Mohammed Polo rose to the occasion by plotting the downfall of the visitors as he orchestrated all the three goals scored by Peter Lamptey and Anas Seidu. The comeback was christened the miracle of El-Wak.

Ten years later in Kumasi, Hearts of Oak's bitterest rivals Asante Kotoko overturned a 0-2 deficit against Cairo giants Zamalek. It was indeed amazing. The Porcupine Warriors, playing at home, conceded an early goal. However, they survived the scare and scored five times through two braces from Prince Polley and Sarfo Gyamfi, as well as a goal from Sarah Mensah. Kofi Abbrey emerged as the most creative player in the evening as he supplied about four of the goals through his incisive corner kicks.

Here's yet another exciting story. It's from the 2006 CAF Champions League - the last round of Preliminary stage qualifying. A place in the 'Money Zone', as the Group Stage of Africa's flagship club competition is known, was at stake, and Accra Hearts of Oak faced off with Ethiopia's St Georges.

The Ghanaians lost 0-4 away in the first leg, causing people to write them off. Yet, in the second leg, the Phobians started a magical recovery exercise by scoring twice, before being awarded a penalty to go three goals up. The Ethiopians eventually boycotted the game on the grounds that the match officials were being biased against them. Hearts of Oak were then declared winners and progressed.


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