CAIRO, July 9 (Reuters) - Ghana’s recent run of misfortune at the Africa Cup of Nations continued on Monday when they were bundled out in the last 16 by Tunisia, condemning a side that once ruled African football to their earliest exit since 2006.
Ghana had won more Cup of Nations titles than any other country when they were last crowned champions in 1982 but their four trophies have since been surpassed by both Egypt (seven) and Cameroon (five).
Ghana had made it to the semi-finals at the six previous tournaments but came up short on each occasion, and the writing was on the wall once again in Ismailia after they had an effort ruled out by the referee and twice hit the woodwork.
With the game finishing tied at 1-1, Ghana needing a freakish own goal in stoppage time to force extra time, Caleb Ekuban saw his kick saved in the penalty shootout to hand Tunisia a place in the quarter-finals.
Coach Kwesi Appiah lamented yet another shootout loss following similar disappointments in their 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Uruguay and 2015 Cup of Nations final against Ivory Coast.
“In several competitions Ghana have lost on penalties but it’s something that we’ve been working on since we started (pre-tournament) camp in Dubai and even yesterday,” he said.
“But when it comes to penalties, it can go either way so it’s difficult to judge why the country is not performing during penalties.”
Appiah also said Ghana had a goal unfairly chopped off, Thomas Partey adjudged to have handled in the build-up to Dede Ayew’s back-heeled finish. He said the use of the Video Assistant Referee would have caught the error.
“If there was VAR the result could have changed. The goal scored would have been allowed,” he added.
“I think the referee should go and watch the video again and judge it for himself. It was really bad.”
Television replays did not appear to support South African referee Victor Gomes’ decision of handball, but VAR would probably have ruled Partey offside.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Peter Rutherford