With a win over Cape Verde, 2-0, Ghana have reached the semifinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The victory moves the Black Stars one step closer to the final as they look to capture their first title in 31 years.
Cape Verde gave a valiant effort against Ghana, but goalkeeper Fatau Dauda made three clutch saves to help turn away his opponents attempts at finding the back of the net.
This match didn't come without controversy, however, as one of two goals scored by Mubarak Wakaso was the result of a spot kick which came from a questionable call midway through the match.
For good measure, Wakaso would net his second goal in the closing minutes to seal the deal.
The win sets Ghana up for a crucial semifinal matchup—let's take a closer look at the keys to success for the Black Stars hopes of winning this tourney.
Great defense has been the theme for Ghana in their last three matches. They have won by a combined margin of 6-0 over their last three opponents: Mali, Niger and now Cape Verde. Defense has no doubt been instrumental in this team's success and is a major reason why they sit in such an ideal position as this tourney winds down.
Ghana has done a great job limiting the amount of shots the opposition is taking. Even when opposing offenses do get opportunities, the Black Stars are doing an excellent job of keeping the ball out of the box on the defensive end, assuring a lack of easy chances on net.
John Pantsil's epic performance on defense has allowed Ghana to neutralize some of their opponent's best players.
That has no doubt made things easier for Ghana's goalkeeper, who has been stellar in his own right.
Speaking of Ghana's goalkeeper—he has been sensational throughout this tourney when the ball does find him.
Dauda was a big reason why Ghana's 2-0 lead ended up standing, as he made three brilliant saves against Cape Verde's Platini, Djaniny and Heldon Ramos.
This kind of safeguard for the Black Stars defense is an advantage that most teams don't have. It allows their defenders to take some chances in order to make things happen going the other way.
Having such an experienced, talented keeper in net gives Ghana a huge advantage over every other team in the AFCON.
One of Ghana's most explosive players, Wakaso, finally erupted for the first time in the AFCON as he scored two goals in the Black Stars' quarterfinal win. Before that, Wakaso had netted just one goal throughout the tournament.
In this instance, Wakaso's two goals—which helped propel the Black Stars to victory over Cape Verde—came in a match where the midfielder was inserted as a substitute.
While he's made two starts thus far in the AFCON, it appears that coming off the bench with fresh legs against tired defenders is the better approach to getting Wakaso going.
We already know what some of Ghana's starters bring to the table—having a weapon like Wakaso coming off the bench and firing on all cylinders will no doubt be the X-factor for the Black Stars offensive attack late in matches.