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Today in history Ghana beat hosts Libya to win AFCON 1982

Exactly 34 years today, the Black Stars defied all odds to beat Libya, the hosts nation 7-6 on penalty shootout to win the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations trophy infront of their intimidating home fans.

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On 19th March, 1982, Ghana rewrote history by becoming the first country to win the competition on penalties after 120 minutes.

Ghana shot into the lead in the35th minute through George Alhassan, the oldest player in the Black Stars during the tournament, but the Libyans with defeat smiling at their face threw everything upfront and succeeded to cancel the lead in the 70 minute through Beshari.

The rest of the minutes played couldn’t produce any further goal, so the referee ushered the two sides into the first ever tie breaking exercise in a final to be decided on penalties.  In the shootout, Sampson Lamptey, George Alhassan, Isaac Paha, Abbrey and Asase scored, in the 1st round, while in the 2nd round of the shootout Owusu Mensah saw his penalty saved by the Libyan goalie, but he also saved a 6th penalty kick by the Libyans. Owusu Mensah, again saved the Libyans 7th penalty to help Ghana win its 4th AFCON.

Ironically Owusu Mensah went to the tourney as Ghana’s third goalie, but turned out the hero of the tourney. George Alhassan who was the oldest player in the Stars team won the golden boot and hence most reporters termed the tournament “George’s African Cup” 

Ghana on their way to their fourth title, drew 2-2 with the hosts nation, Libya who were making their debut in the competition, before they drew 0-0 against Cameroon and registered a 1-0 win over Tunisia to advance from the group stage.

In the semifinal, Ghana survived from fought from two goals down to beat Algeria by 3-2 in extra time through two goals from George Alhassan ( 64 and 103) and a goal from Opoku Nti (90). 

Note: Hadn’t been the 1982 coup detat that toppled the Limann’s government, Ghana wouldn’t have participated in the 1982 AFCON, due to diplomatic reasons and financial constraints. When the new government led by Flt Lt J.J Rawlings, the chairman of PNDC, took over, he insisted that Ghana should participate.

Teenager, Abedi Pele, who would later become the first footballer to win the African Player of the Year on three consecutive occasions was also in the thick of events during the tournament and even had a part to play in the grand finale.

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