19 November 2018

Ethiopia/Ghana: Black Stars Revive AFCON Hopes ... As Jordan Brace Sinks Ethiopia

Ghana's Black Stars breathed life into their 2019 AFCON campaign when they beat the Welias of Ethiopia 2-0 in their qualifier yesterday at Addis Ababa.

Jordan Ayew scored both goals to lift the Stars to second position in the group where they trail the Harambee Stars of Kenya.

The Black Stars will determine their fate on the weekend of March 22-24 when they welcome Kenya to Ghana in what could be the final clash of the group.

It was a great return for the Ayews - Andre and Jordan - who returned to the team having been absent for a while under circumstances that remains unclear up to their return.

Together with other senior players including Wakaso Mubarak, Afriyie Acquah, Asamoah Gyan who was on the bench, Harrison Afful, John Boye and Jonathan Mensah, Coach Kwesi Appiah paraded the core of the team that qualified the team to the last World Cup.

Following the disappointment in Kenya, the Stars went straight into action after the first whistle and got an early opener through Jordan Ayew in the 3rd minute.

Jordan latched onto a through pass from midfield and controlled well before squaring from a narrow corner but managed to beat the Ethiopian goalkeeper.

With Atletico Madrid's midfield general Thomas Partey and Wakaso running the show in midfield, the Ghanaians continued to dominate the game while the Ethiopians attempted occasional breaks which the Ghanaian defence dealt with.

Ghana was awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute when Emmanuel Boateng was brought down by the Ethiopian goalie, Abel Mamo.

Mamo was lucky to escape the referee's sending off for the foul but was unlucky against Jordan who planted the ball at the goalkeeper's left hand side to double the lead.

The Ethiopians threw everything into the game and immediately threatened the Stars as the fans chanted to spur the home team on.

Beneyam Belye Demte and Mineyelu Wondimu at that period wasted very good chances that could have changed the fortunes of the game.

They went close to scoring again in the dyeing embers of the half but again failed to beat the stable Ghana defence.

The Welias returned to the second session the strongest and more determined side and dominated the exchanges against a Ghanaian side that aimed at defending the lead, keeping the ball and catching their host on the counter.

That forced the first substitution from Ghana as Afriyie Acquah replaced Partey in the 59th minute to provide a stern cover for the back four.

That notwithstanding, the Welias managed to find a way past them as one of their forays into the Stars area created a scramble and followed by a strong penalty appeal which was ignored by the referee in the 64th minute.

A minute later, the Stars had to rely on goalkeeper Richard Ofori to keep the scores intact.

The South Africa based goalkeeper pulled a great save to an Omod Okwury strike that headed goal bound.

Kwesi Appiah again introduced Nana Ampomah and Jonathan Mensah in a bid to strengthen the defence in the face of a constant raid by the Ethiopians but again had to depend on Ofori again to maintain a clean sheet as he dived to tip a dipping cross over the bar for a late corner that was wasted.

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