The Gossiper

AFCON Qualifiers: Ghana Beat Sao Tome 3-1

The Black Stars of Ghana have beaten the Falcons of Sao Tome 3-1 at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra, Ghana.

Ghana has gone off to also top Group C with the 3-1 win over Sao Tome and Principe.

Nicholas Opoku and Abdul Rahman Baba each fetched their debut goals for the Black Stars, adding to a Jordan Ayew penalty, as the home side claimed all three points in the Group C fixture at the Accra Sports Stadium. Iniesta scored the visitors’ consolation goal.

The West Africans finished third on the table to book their 23rd qualifications for the continental tournament to be held in Cameroon, one point above Sudan who beat South Africa 2-0 on Sunday to finish second on the table to pick the other available ticket.

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, Swansea attacker Andre Ayew, and Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew were restored into the line-up after missing the trip to South Africa due to Covid-19 travel challenges.

Italy-born duo Caleb Ekuban and Emmanuel Gyasi as well as Asante Kotoko striker Kwame Opoku were sacrificed for the England-based trio.

Veteran striker Luis Leal, who plays club football for Mexican side Sol de America, led the lines for Sao Tome, who had absolutely no chance of securing qualification no matter the score in Accra.

Ghana started strongly, mounting pressure, but it was the visitors who paradoxically had the first big chance as a shot across the face of goal beggingly rolled past without a connection.

Leal then followed up a minute later with a long-range free-kick which miss the target just narrowly.

In the 12th minute, Ghana broke the deadlock through Amiens center-back Nicholas Opoku, who rose high to head Mohammed Kudus’ corner into the net.

Four minutes later, Jordan saw a penalty shout ignored by the referee after he went down in the box under a challenge of Vava Pequeno.

Baba and Partey had close-range chances to double Ghana’s lead but the former hit his shot into the side netting while the latter saw his goal-bound shot blocked by a defender.

Ghana eventually made it 2-0 in the 31st minute after Jordan Ayew, latching onto a Kudus through-ball and being brought down, picked himself up and coolly slotted the spot-kick into the net.

Moments later, Opoku almost found his second goal of the day from yet another corner but his header this time around went glancing and over the bar.

Five minutes to half-time, Kudus broke down the left after dispossessing Jardel Nazare but his final shot was saved by goalkeeper Aldair D’Almeida.

After the break, Wakaso drove a shot from outside the box over, before substitute Gladson Awako, who came on at half-time for Bukari, failed to direct a volley from inside the box on target after being picked out by Andre Ayew down the left.

At the opposite end, Leal tried his luck from a long-range free-kick again in the 58th minute but his shot flashed wide.

On the hour mark, Ghana found the third goal as Chelsea loanee Baba slotted a shot into the net from close range after Kudus drove his way into the box to set it all up.

In the 83rd minute, Sao Tome pulled a goal back as goalkeeper Razak Abalora, in an attempt to play from the back, saw his ball intercepted by substitute Iniesta who slotted into an empty net to punish the lackadaisical Asante Kotoko No.1.

Ghana could have restored their three-goal lead just a minute later but former Bayern Munich striker Kwasi Okyere Wriedt, a substitute, failed to keep his composure after being played one-on-one with the goalkeeper, his effort going wide.

At this point, the visitors grew more into the game but failed to get any more clear-cut openings to cause any more harm.

Ghana, though, saw Andre Ayew and Wriedt go searching for a fourth goal in injury time, their failure promptly followed by the final whistle.

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