Birmingham — Ghana men were denied one of world hockey’s great wins when the world No 36 side succumbed to a disputed penalty stroke within the final second of their pool match against Canada on Monday night. “We were hoping to go the last whistle,” said Ghana’s Christopher Dogbe. “We were excited, we were enjoying the game. It’s very sad how the game ended.”
Benjamin Kwofie had scored Ghana’s first goal in a major tournament in the 10th minute and then saw a goal overturned to double their lead as the African side were allowed to express themselves after shipping 17 goals in defeats to England and India.
They had maintained their lead until the final minute when Canada were awarded a penalty stroke after review and Keegan Peirera spoiled the party. And it would have been some party in the Birmingham rain.
Instead, Canada barely celebrated and the crowd booed after it finished 1-1. Moments later, the Ghanaians went to applaud the fans once again with a walk the length of the grandstand. They have been the underdog story of these Games.
“We had scored earlier, but the video referral overturned the goal and we thought the time was up before the foul and the stroke was given,” added Dogbe.
“It’s not easy for us, but we had to go to the fans who have been with us all tournament and cheer them up. You know, it’s a nice experience. It’s a game of hockey too and every second counts and it’s a lesson for us. We had the three points and it was a micro second.”
World No 13 Canada were well below par against the African side and could have been two down but for an overturned decision in their favour for a back stick in the area.
“It was the edge of the stick but it was given a foul,” claimed Dogbe. “We worked hard with our coach, but it’s part of sport. We won’t be discouraged. We’ll come back stronger.
“This is our first major tournament. This win would have been a great moment for us.”
As time ticked and Ghana closing in on victory, Dogbe said that emotions and anxiety doubled. At the hooter, they were all jumping up on the sidelines before the anti-climatic ending. Ghana had good claims for thinking the outcome should have been a penalty corner.
“I was on the bench and trying to cheer them up,” he added. “We needed a little bit of composure. But I think the foul was outside the D. It was the umpire’s decision and we’ll take it in good faith.”
Canada’s John Smythe said: “Credit to Ghana. They’re good, they have their own league and they’re up and coming. They’re going to be better and better and I hope to see them crawl up the world stage.”