Ghana 1-0 Angola: Late Antoine Semenyo goal hands Chris Hughton winning start

Chris Hughton made a winning start to life as Ghana coach as the Black Stars recorded a 1-0 victory over Angola in a 2023 AFCON qualifier at the Baba Yara Stadium on Thursday evening.

In his first game in charge of the Black Stars, Hughton named an exciting line-up for the game against the Black Antelopes, with Thomas Partey captaining the side in the absence of regular skipper Andre Ayew, who was left out of the match-day squad as a precaution.

Lawrence Ati Zigi, however, maintained his position in post, having been Ghana’s starting goalkeeper at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

He was joined by a back four of Denis Odoi, Gideon Mensah, Alexander Djiku and Daniel Amartey as Mohammed Salisu sat out due to injury.

Partey partnered Edmund Addo in the middle of the park, while Premier League duo Jordan Ayew and Kamaldeen Sulemana provided width on either flank.

In-form Ajax star Mohammed Kudus was deployed in a playmaking role, with Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams leading the line as lone striker.

A huge crowd turned up at the Baba Yara stadium to cheer the Black Stars but it was the away side that made the first serious attempt on goal when Ati Zigi was tested with a long-range shot.

Ghana’s first opening came in the fifth minute after Odoi went on an impressive run and cut back for Kudus, whose shot rolled just wide.

Hughton’s side continued to dominate the early exchanges and nearly scored the opener when Partey threaded a pass to Williams but the Bilbao striker’s attempt to round the goalkeeper was counterproductive.

Angola carved a rare opening after a quarter of an hour but a timely black by Amartey spared the blushes of Ghana’s defense.

The home crowd was left unhappy midway through the first half when Jordan Ayew appear to have been fouled in the box but the referee would have none of the penalty shouts.

The Black Stars laboured to create clear-cut chances, with the poor nature of the pitch also making passing difficult for both teams.

Kudus, however, nearly broke the duck when he exchanged a brilliant one-two with Jordan, but his long-range shot was feeble.

Williams was the next to go close after a defensive mix-up saw the ball fall to his feet, but his effort was blocked by a timely tackle as Ghana’s frustration continued to build up.

The Black Stars were perhaps lucky not to have conceded a late penalty in the first half after Amartey clumsily clattered into the Angolan attacker in the box, as both teams went into the break without a breakthrough.

The Central Africans started the second half as the dominant side by bossing possession but were nearly punished against the run of play when Sulemana broke free.

The Southampton winger successfully displaced his marker but saw his shot parried away for a corner kick.

Hughton made a series of changes to try to turn the game around, bringing on Joseph Paintsil, Osman Bukari and Antoine Semenyo.

And it was the latter who found the breakthrough in the 95th minute when he slammed home a rebound after Joseph Aidoo’s effort had been kept out.

The result means the Black Stars remain top of Group E of the 2023 African qualifiers, and are now three points clear of Angola.

Both teams will battle it out again in the return encounter in Luanda on Monday as the race for qualification gets keener.



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