World Cup qualifier

BY: Daniel Kenu
• Skipper Asamoah Gyan holds off a challenge from his Comoros counterpart. Picture: Emmanuel Baah

Ghana's Black Stars on Tuesday beat the least ranked team in Africa, Les Coelecantes of the Comoros Island, 2-0 to qualify for the group stage of the African qualifiers for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Playing on a rainy turf at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi, the Stars laboured in the first quarter of the game before man of the match, Mubarak Wakaso, broke the back of the defensive-minded visitors with a picturesque curling free kick outside the penalty area after 18 minutes.

The goal brought the over 20,000 fans on to their feet, while Jordan Ayew  added the second after a goal-mouth scrimmage to seal the deal in the 85th minute.

 

It was not a dominant performance by the Stars but it was good enough to move Ghana to the third round of the qualifiers after a scoreless first leg in Comoros last Friday.

Italy-based Emmanuel Agyemang Badu fluffed a second minute chance after selfishly ballooning the ball in the box instead  of simply laying a pass for a colleague to finish off.

As if that was not enough, skipper Asamoah Gyan was a bundle of nerves as he uncharacteristically missed two opportunities, one in each half, that could have changed the chemistry of the match.

The apparently unfit captain headed off a Dede Ayew inswinger in the 23rd minute and blew off a six-yard chance with only goalkeeper Boina Ben Salin to beat.

The Stars were given a scare earlier in the 11th minute when speedstar Mogni Ahmed’s close-range shot hit the palm of goalkeeper Razak Brimah and went off the upright before rolling off the goal line.

But the game degenerated into a comedy of errors during a rainy second half with near misses from which the Stars could have benefitted the most.

The effects of the rains notwithstanding, it brought the stadium alive as Lybian referee Omar Ragab Mohammed stood his grounds not to call off the match.

Jordan took advantage of a series of slips in the visitors goal area to dribble past two defenders before firing into the top right corner to fetch Ghana's second goal and to eliminate a side ranked 159 below Ghana.

Black stars: Razak Braimah, Harrison Afful, Baba Rahman, Jonathan Mensah/Daniel Amartey,  John Boye, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Mubarak Wakaso, Andre Ayew, Solomon Asante/Jeffery Schlupp, Jordan Ayew, Asamoah Gyan/Samuel Tetteh.