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Black Stars share spoils with Cote d'Ivoire in international friendly

BY: Bernard Neequaye
Black Stars line up ahead of the game with Cote d'Ivoire
Black Stars line up ahead of the game with Cote d'Ivoire

The senior national team, Black Stars, failed to beat West African neighbours Cote d’Ivoire in an entertaining friendly international at the Cape Coast Stadium on Saturday.

Both teams settled for a goalless stalemate in their first clash since meeting in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Equatorial Guinea.

In a match which represented a real test for the Elephants and the Black Stars ahead of the commencement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, both sides fielded their strongest team.

While Ghana had influential midfielder Thomas Partey and skipper Andre Ayew returning to the team starting line-up, Cote d’Ivoire trainer, Patrice Beaumelle paraded a strong starting squad of Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly, Tottenham Hotspur right-back Serge Aurier, AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and Ajax striker Sebastien Haller.

The match started with the Black Stars dominating play but the Ivorians were the dangerous team going forward.

Cote d’Ivoire came close to scoring in the 11th minute after striker Sebastien Haller header went straight into the hands of Ghana’s goalie Lawrence Ati-Zigi.

Three minutes later, the Elephants came close to scoring again in the first half through striker Wilfried Singo who failed to finish off a fine one-two with Haller by missing a sitter.

In the 21st minute, Partey sent a free-kick over the bar for Ghana after Emmanuel Gyasi was brought down before Jordan Ayew delivered another poor free-kick which was dealt with by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohuo.

Just before half-time, the Ivorians created what proved to be the last chance of the half when Kessie rose high to head Aurier’s corner but Ati-Zigi was on hand to handle the danger.

After recess, Cote d’Ivoire were first to go close again with Kessie’s shot from outside the box deflecting off Alexander Djiku and going just over onto the roof of the net.

Coach Beaumelle introduced Ahmad Diallo and veteran Max Gradel to improve on Cite d’Ivoire’s scoring attempt. 

In the opposite direction, coach Charles Akonnor replaced skipper Ayew, defender Alexander Djiku and Emmanuel Gyasi with Kwame Opoku, Ismail Ganiu and Joel Famayeh respectively.

However, the Ghanaians couldn’t break a well-organised Ivorian side as Partey failed to find the back of the net with a header in the final minutes of the match.

The Black Stars will return to action with a double-header against Ethiopia and South Africa in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September.