Algeria punish Ghana 3-0 for costly errors in pre-AFCON friendly

BY: Bernard Neequaye
A disappointed Black Stars side after their defeat to Algeria
A disappointed Black Stars side after their defeat to Algeria

Two goalkeeping errors from Manaf Nurudeen and substitute Lawrence Ati Zigi, and an own goal by Jonathan Mensah gifted a dominant Algeria side a well-deserved 3-0 win over the Black Stars in a pre-Africa Cup of Nations friendly at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, yesterday.

It was a reality check for Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac and his players who play another North African side, Morocco in a Group C clash on Monday.

The Black Stars are set to depart their Qatari training camp tomorrow for the Camerounian city of Garoua ahead of the January 9 ¬-- February 6 tournament.

Early lead

The reigning African champions went ahead as early as the eighth minute as Napoli attacker Adam Ounas went past defender Gideon Mensah and fired at near post with goalkeeper Nurudeen failing to make a save.

Ghana settled into their game in the second half and took the game to their opponents but Jonathan Mensah miskicked the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear a shot into the six-yard box by Youcef Atal in the 75th minute to give the Desert Warriors a comfortable 2-0 lead. Four minutes later, Ghana's defence caved in under pressure again as goalkeeper Ati-Zigi allowed a ground shot to slip through his hands, leaving Islam Slimani with an easy task to tap in Algeria's third goal for a confidence-boosting victory ahead of their title challenge in Cameroun.

The Algerians dominated play from the beginning of the game which helped in getting the opener after just eight minutes with the Ghanaians struggling to find their rhythm.

The Desert Warriors had the chance to extend their lead in the 35th minute through a Yacine Brahimi’s free-kick but striker Baghdad Bounedjah failed to tap in from close range.

Ghana fight back

Clear scoring chances were few and far between for Ghana. In the 42nd minutes, Joseph Paintsil failed to connect with a rebound from a Thomas Partey shot which forced a save from Algeria goalie Rais M’Bolhi.

The Algerians held on to their lead in the first half but Ghana came in stronger after the recess and nearly got the equaliser when Abdul-Fatawu Issahaku’s brilliant curling effort was parried by M'Bolhi after 48 minutes.

Referee Saoud Al-Adba overlooked a penalty appeal by Ghana in the 51st minute when Kamaldeen Sulemana was fouled in the box.

Striker Benjamin Tetteh was called to action 10 minutes later but missed from close range in the 61st minute despite receiving a fine pass from Issahaku.

The Algerians persistence in the second half paid off when blunders from Mensah and substitute goalie Ati-Zigi won the day for them.

The humbling defeat handed Ghana a reality check ahead of Africa’s flagship football tournament which has eluded the Stars in four decades.