2019 AFCON qualifers: Stars vow to maintain lead in Group F

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
The Black Stars as they lined up against Kenya's Harambee Stars
The Black Stars as they lined up against Kenya's Harambee Stars

Ghana's Black Stars have promised to do all it takes to  consolidate their lead in Group F and finish as group winners in the race for a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be staged in Cameroun.

The Stars lost 0-1 away to Kenya on Saturday, but managed to hold on to the lead in Group F after Ethiopia also claimed their first three points to throw the group wide open with all teams on three points.

Kenya benefitted from a Nicholas Opoku clearance which rather found its way into the Ghana net

Despite the setback in Nairobi, the Stars are not giving up with Coach Kwasi Appiah insisting that his charges will come good and make amends in the remaining three matches.

"It is unfortunate that we did not get the results that we had planned and worked for. We had hoped for at least a draw and a point, but that did not happen.

" We are not desperate but we will recover and ensure that we maintain the lead till the end of the qualifying campaign," Coach Appiah told the Graphic Sports.

He admitted that his charges were not efficient upfront, ruing the missed chances that could have seen them equalise and possibly take the lead.

"We can't afford to waste the chances we create as we did against Kenya. They came with a strategy and it worked well for them. We should have taken the chances we created. We have identified the rough edges and we will continue to smoothen them.

"Remember we are still in the team building process so we correct our mistakes as they come, but we will surely get there," he assured.

The Stars were strong favourites going into the game, but a 40th minute own goal by Nicholas Opoku and the failure of the players to convert the chances they created, cost the Stars to drop valuable points on Match Day Two of the qualifying campaign.

With both Kenya and Ethiopia, losers in the opening day matches winning on Match Day Two, there is all to fight for in the group as the campaign progresses.

Kenya, who were beaten 2-1 by Sierra Leone in the opening game, earned their first win and three points from the match against Ghana, while Ethiopia, who were walloped 5-0 by Ghana on Match Day One, also recovered to earn a 2-1 win over the Leone Stars.

The Harambee Stars  finally broke a long-held jinx of the Stars claiming victory from an own goal from Nicholas Opoku, who in a bid to clear the ball, rather slot it into his own net, to hand the Kenyans their first win over the Stars in about 15 years.

The Stars could not take advantage of their numerical strength when Kenya went down to 10 men, neither were they able to convert the chances they created.

The Harambee Stars were reduced to ten men after Joash Onyango was shown a straight red for deliberately bringing down Waris at the edge of the box.

The standings after Match Day Two no doubt sets the tone for the contest on Match Day Three to be honoured in October  with Ghana hosting Sierra Leone and Kenya welcoming Ethiopia.

Group F standings
Team           P    W    D    L    GF    GA    GD    PTS
Ghana          2     1    0    1     5       1      4      3
Kenya          2     1    0    1     2       2      0      3
Sa Leone     2     1    0    1     2       2      0       3
Ethiopia       2     1    0    1     1       5    -4       3