The Black Stars of Ghana came from behind to defeat the Central African Republic (CAR) 2-1 at the Baba Yara Stadium and clinched their spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Under the guidance of Chris Hughton, youngsters, Mohammed Kudus and Ernest Nuamah, rose to the occasion.
Kudus’ precision free-kick in the 43rd minute and Nuamah’s close-range finish in the 88th minute secured their passage to Cote d’Ivoire, emerging as the top contenders from Group E.
The early exchanges saw the Wild Beasts of CAR asserting dominance, a testament to their aggressive approach. Louis Mafouta’s 25th-minute breakthrough, exploiting a gap in Ghana’s defense, swung the momentum in favor of CAR.
Goduine Koyalipou’s earlier attempt had forced an acrobatic save from Ghana’s goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi, setting the stage for the high-stakes clash.
While the Black Stars struggled to forge opportunities from open play, a crucial setpiece near the 18-yard box provided a lifeline. It was Kudus who stepped up, elegantly slotting the ball past CAR’s keeper Geoffrey Lembet with his left foot and leveling the score just before halftime.
As the teams regrouped at the break, the scoreline remained locked at one apiece, setting the stage for an intense second half.
CAR persisted in their aggressive tactics, applying relentless pressure on Ghana’s resolute defense. A blistering rebound shot narrowly missed the target, while Salis Abdul Samed’s attempt, orchestrated by Nuamah, found itself safely nestled in Lembet’s grasp.
Then, in a moment of brilliance, Ernest Nuamah found the back of the net, capitalizing on Antoine Semenyo’s precise pass. The 19-year-old Lyon striker’s clinical finish sealed the deal for Ghana, securing their ticket to the AFCON for a 10th consecutive time.