Black Stars held by Congo as 2018 World Cup dream fades

Skipper Bifouma opened the score in the first half[/caption] Congo’s Red Devils put up a feisty performance at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Friday to share the spoils with the Black Stars in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match. The Devils’ captain Thievy Bifouma opened the scoring in the first half and his side held on until the 85th minute, when Thomas Partey equalised for the Stars. It ended 1-1. The draw gives the Central Africans their first point in the qualifying series while it leaves the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists still without a win. It was a must-win game for the Stars – in chasing a difficult Russia 2018 dream – after Uganda leapfrogged Egypt as Group E leaders in a 1-0 home win on Thursday. The four-time African champions managed to control possession in the first few minutes with Partey’s goal early in the game ruled offside by Tunisian referee Youssef Essrayri. A few minutes later, a sloppy control by newcomer Joseph Attamah Larweh saw him dispossessed of the ball by Congolese skipper Bifouma, who made no mistake in slotting it at the left side of goalkeeper Richard Ofori. All efforts to draw level including Asamoah Gyan’s top-of-the-post-landing free kick proved futile as the Devils appeared determined to get their first points of the campaign. They came from the break a more confident side, testing the Ghana goalie on several occasions but the Stars’ attacking play was also given a boost when Harrison Afful came on for Attamah. The US-based player’s push into the penalty area saw him nearly finding the near post of the Congo goal. With barely five minutes to end the game, a quick free kick taken by the Stars saw Afful playing a one-two pass with Christian Atsu, who found Partey in a deep position in the Congolese half. The Atletico Madrid midfielder got the ball into the net for the all-important equaliser. Substitute Thomas Agyepong’s attacking runs could not bring the winner as referee Essrayri brought proceedings at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium to an end. Ghana travel to Brazzaville next Tuesday for the return encounter. Friday’s result does little to the shape of Group E after Uganda’s shock win over Egypt.

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By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana ]]>