At the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana defeated Angola 1-0 to finish as Group E leaders in the 2023 AFCON Qualifiers on Thursday afternoon.
The game was evenly balanced in the early stages, with both teams creating few chances. Ghana attempted to play through the midfield, but Angola packed their midfield to block their passage.
Despite this, both teams managed to create threats. Gelson skipped past Gideon Mensah at the left side of defense, but his delivery into the box was defended. Ghana gradually warmed into the game and began to open Angola’s defense, hitting the posts on a few occasions. Jordan Ayew had a penalty claim, but the incident where he was brought down inside the box was overlooked.
Angola was smooth on the ball, but Ghana had more possession. Kudus Mohammed launched a sensational attack and exchanged passes with Jordan Ayew as he drove forward and struck a shot, but it was an effort that wouldn’t trouble Angola shot-stopper Neblu. Angola broke on attack from the right flank with Gelson running through from the center of the pitch before being fouled at the edge of the box. The resultant free-kick was defended by Daniel Amartey.
Despite Ghana’s dominance, they struggled to find the target. Angola earned a penalty after Amartey fouled Ary Papel, but it was overruled. Angola captain Fredy sent in a long-range shot, narrowly missing the target. Ghana increased their momentum in first-half stoppage time as Inaki Willaims and Jordan Ayew linked up, but Williams’ shot went off-target.
In the second half, Angola threatened the Ghana area a couple of times, but Ghana remained in control. Kamaldeen Sulemana nearly broke the deadlock, but his effort was parried over for a corner. Ghana’s play was missing something, as they could progress from the back through the middle, but the final third decisions were not accurate. Angola made appropriate decisions, but the final pass was their lacking issue.
Ghana regrouped and attempted to score, with Jordan Ayew and Kudus Mohammed central to their attacks. Angola boss Pedro Concalves made three substitutions, and Antoine Semenyo came in for Inaki Willaims. Kudus’ shot inside the six-yard box was blocked, but if it was allowed into the post, it would have been the deadlock breaker. Minutes later, a Ghana effort struck the crossbar after Kudus found Kamaldeen Sulemana at the left side, who hit the woodwork.
The Black Stars took total control of the game, pushing Angola to their own half. Partey played Semenyo through on goal, but the forward’s touch beat Neblu and the posts at the same time. Ghana finally broke through after Antoine Semenyo scored from a rebound. Kudus sent in a free-kick from the right edge, but Angola failed to clear the lines, and the ball fell to Semenyo, who scored with a half volley.
The victory gives Ghana seven points at the top of the group, while Angola sits in second place with four points.
On that note, let’s take a look at the five talking points from the game.
1.Thomas Partey proves his mettle
Thomas Teye Partey deserves the thousands of words of adulation that are going to be written about him after his Baba Yara masterclass on Tuesday evening.
Silent in most part of the first half but was the creative force for the Black Stars in the second half after he was joined by Abdul Samed Salis. Not only did he lead the team as captain well but his overall performance was impressive.
2.Pedro Gonçalves set up his Angola side for a draw
Despite failing to hold onto their impressive defensive display in the end, manager Pedro Gonçalves and his Angola side are bound to make the trip back to the west coast of Southern Africa feeling proud of their efforts against one of the best teams on the continent.
Despite being a traditionally smaller nation in African football that does not have big-name personnel, the Panenclas Negras went toe-to-toe with the Black Stars till the death when Semenyo netted the winner which proved to be the last kick of the game. Their delay tactics could not work for them.
3.Ghana’s attack was dead
There was no urgency in Ghana’s attack throughout the game, with no pressing on the Angolan defence from the Black Stars forwards. It was a pretty easy game for the three Angola centre-halves, who were always in control of the situation. No cutting edge, poor decision making throughout the game, almost gave the vociferous Kumasi fans nothing to cheer about.
4.The passing conumdrum
Throughout the first half, the Black Stars experienced difficulty in connecting with their teammates via passes. Jordan Ayew, in particular, lost possession on 11 occasions, most of which were from attempted passes. There were numerous instances where players seemed unsure of what to do with the ball, resulting in turnovers.
5.The promise of entertainment was broken
Yeah there was pace and industry — it was a veritable relay race up-and-down the pitch — but gilt-edged chances were few and far between as a tired Ghana could hardly find openings in resolute Angola. The match was a story of the visitors’ strong defense and some big moments from Antoine Semenyo and Thomas Partey for the hosts.