Ghana’s Late Goal, Hughton’s Praise For The Fans And More

On March 23, in the AFCON qualifier match at the Baba Yaara Sports stadium, Ghana defeated “tough” Angola by a single goal.

The supersubstitute, Antoine Semenyo scored in the final minute of extra time to give the Black Stars a deserved victory over a disciplined Angola team in Kumasi.

As the “Palancans Negras” of Angola appeared to be pulling off a respectable draw, Ghana had numerous scoring chances from various angles in both halves but failed to score.

After Mohammed Kudus’s beautiful free kick, the Ghanaians gathered in the Angolan penalty box in a last-ditch effort to score a goal when Semenyo popped up to score.

Adilson Cipriano da Cruz, Angola’s goalkeeper, made several excellent saves to keep the game scoreless, but he was unable to stop Semenyo’s shot inside the six-yard box, sending the expected crowd into a frenzy as the Black Stars players surrounded their lone goal scorer.

“It was late and we needed to act fast and luckily the ball dropped into my path. It’s good for the confidence and I needed it. The atmosphere was good and my dad was in the crowd,” said Antoine Semenyo.

This is the player’s second goal, and his first on Ghanaian soil.

The win guaranteed Ghana’s position on top of the Group E table of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers ahead of the second leg in Luanda on Monday March 27.

As Chris Hughton got off to a winning start as the Black Stars’ new coach, the atmosphere in Kumasi was charged with anticipation of a victory.

The Irish coach surprisingly omitted Skipper Andre Ayew from the team and handed Edmund Addo a starting role as a holding midfielder Thomas Partey leading the team on the pitch as the Ghana gaffer adopted 4-2-3-1 formation.

The Angolans gained confidence as the game progressed, exploited gaps in Ghana’s midfield and defense to create some scoring chances, particularly in the first half, and kept goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi on alert. The Ghanaians dominated the exchanges, enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, and created numerous scoring opportunities.

The Angolans sat back for the first 15 minutes and let the Stars set the pace. Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus played deep in the middle of the field, while Jordan Ayew and Kamaldeen Sulemana played on the wings and broke through the Angolan defense.

However, Kudus watched as some of his shots narrowly missed the target, and lead striker Inaki Williams did not finish off some of the chances that came his way.

After the break, the Black Stars appeared to be playing better and continued to put pressure on the southern Americans in search of the opening goal. The Angolan sat back, took in the pressure, and looked for opportunities to get the Ghanaians off to a bad start.

The Angolans began to gain confidence and took the game to the Ghanaians, who were firing shots from all angles in search of the opener while the vociferous crowd went silent as the Ghanaians kept missing chances.

As a Kudus shot was about to hit the net in the 53rd minute, Goalkeeper Cipriano parried it for a corner kick, and the entire stadium nearly stood up to celebrate.

Coach Hughton made three significant substitutions in the 70th minute. He brought in Abdul Samed Salif in place of Addo to strengthen the midfield and free Partey to play a more offensive role. Joseph Painstil and Semenyo took Williams’ and Jordan Ayew’s places.

Stephen Appiah Endorses Ghana’s New Coach

In an effort to score, the Black Stars quickly began to send more players into the final third of the Angolan half.

Angola’s relief and Ghana’s frustration were compounded when Semenyo missed a golden opportunity to put Ghana ahead three minutes into extra time with a shot from close range that flew wide.

However, Ghana won a free kick right on the edge of Angola’s penalty box two minutes later, and the Bournemouth striker had the last laugh. The kick that came out of it was stopped well by the goalkeeper, but the rebound caused a fight in the goalmouth, and Semenyo got up to shoot the ball into the net to a tumultuous roar from the packed crowd.

Coach Hughton acknowledged after the game that his team did not take advantage of the numerous scoring opportunities but looked forward to playing better in Monday’s rematch. He thanked the Kumasi supporters for their unwavering support, despite the team’s difficulties.

“It’s a win and that’s most important. We faced a well organised Angolan side that grew in confidence because we failed to score and it put pressure on us. Even if you are at your best and you don’t score, you encourage your opponent,” he said.

Group E Table:

Position Team Pts
1 Ghana 7
2 Central African Republic 4
3 Angola 4
4 Madagascar 1

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