Ghana break Angola’s hearts with late Semenyo goal as Banda’s brace rescues Zambia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

Antoine Semenyo

Ghana break Angola’s hearts with late Semenyo goal as Banda’s brace rescues Zambia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

Antoine Semenyo scored a last-minute goal to secure a 1-0 win for Ghana against Angola in their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Kumasi.

A star-studded Ghana had struggled to open up the stubborn Angola defence at a packed Baba Yara Sports Stadium before Semenyo poked home the goal deep in stoppage time, following a goalmouth melee.

The match was seemingly headed for goalless draw before Ghana got a free-kick which Angola goalkeeper Cipriano da Cruz spilled and as both sets of players scrambled for the ball, it fell to Semenyo who hit home his second goal for the Black Stars.

Mohammed Kudus and Kamaldeen Sulemana had come close for Ghana with their efforts drawing good saves from Cipriano before substitute Semenyo came to their rescue with the last kick of the game.

Chris Hughton had gone for experience in his first game in charge of the Black Stars, starting with Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku, Denis Odoi and Gideon Mensah in defence with captain of the day Thomas Partey marshalling the midfield alongside Edmund Addo.

Sulemana and Jordan Ayew were deployed on the wings with Kudus playing the No10 role just behind Inaki Williams. Partey impressed in midfield with his defence-splitting passes finding Williams and Kudus but the attackers failed to make good use of them.

Meanwhile, Central Africa Republic got their campaign back on track following a 3-0 win away to Madagascar in Thursday’s early kick off, Louis Mafouta scoring a brace after Isaac Ngoma had opened the scoring.

In Group H, Zambia assumed top spot following a 3-1 win at home to Lesotho. Chipolopolo had to come from behind when Rangers forward Fashion Sakala cancelled out Tshwarelo Bereng’s goal for 1-1 at halftime before Lecce striker Lameck Banda scored twice in the space of four minutes to turn the game around after the break.

Elsewhere, late drama was witnessed as 10-man South Sudan pulled off a 2-1 win away to Congo Brazzaville, Tito Okello scoring the winner in added time, after Thievy Bifouma’s 90th minute penalty had cancelled out Peter Chol’s 65th minute strike.

The win left Ghana in a commanding position in Group E with seven points, three ahead of Angola and Central Africa Republic with Madagascar bottom with one.

Kudus after he had impressed at the 2022 World Cup but after a missing two chances in the first half, he faded after the break, with Sulemana showing flashes of brilliance.

Ghana’s struggles in front of goal shows new coach Hughton has a big job on his hands to turn them into a cohesive unit that will be able to easily break down teams before they start thinking of challenging for honours.

Ghana will play away to Angola on Monday and another victory will get them closer to sealing qualification.