Black Stars secure 24th AFCON ticket after nervy win against Central African Republic

Mohammed Kudus

The Black Stars of Ghana will be making their 24th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after beating the Central African Republic (CAR) 2-1 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Thursday.

Mohammed Kudus’ first-half leveller and Ernest Nuamah’s winning strike secured Ghana’s 10th straight AFCON ticket as they topped Group H with 12 points, followed by Angola with nine points.

The Wild Beasts of Central African Republic started the game on the front foot, controlling affairs from defence to attack, with the Black Stars struggling to curtail their attacks.

Black Stars goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi was called into action in the 17th minute as he pulled off a brilliant save from a Louis Mafouta shot on the edge of the penalty box.

But the away side went in front in the 25th minute as Mafouta intelligently beat his marker and dribbled past Ati-Zigi as he tapped the ball into the empty net.

It was panic stations for the Black Stars, who had conceded the goal but gradually gained momentum as the game progressed.

Jordan Ayew came close to restoring parity for the Black Stars, but his shot in the penalty box narrowly skewed off the goal post.

The Black Stars pressure in the late stages of the first half was intense and deservedly restored parity in the 43rd minute after Mohammed Kudus expertly converted a free kick from outside the box.

The first half ended one-all.

The Wild Beasts started the second half like they did in the first half, causing havoc in the Black Stars defence, which was very shaky.

The Black Stars had some very scary moments in defence as they were left off the hook with some poor finishing by their opponents.

Ghana struggled upfront, with their top striker, Inaki Williams, often left isolated and having no services whatsoever.

Black Stars coach Chris Hughton half way through the game brought Gideon Mensah, Ernest Nuamah, and Antoine Semenyo, which somehow balanced play and kept the Wild Beasts at bay.

Substitute Ernest Nuamah scored the winning goal for the Black Stars in the 86th minute after he tapped home from close range.

Black Stars Starting Line-up: Ati-Zigi (GK), Alidu Seidu, Alexander Djiku, Baba Rahman (Gideon Mensah), Joseph Aidoo, Salis Samed, Elisha Owusu Mohammed Kudus, Jordan Ayew, Osman Bukari (Ernest Nuamah), Inaki Williams (Antoine Semenyo).

Source: GNA

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