Black Stars pip Uganda 1-0 in AFCON opener

Dede Ayew AFCON
Dede Ayew scored the only goal of the game from the spot

Ghana kicked off their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations campaign in a flying start after an Andre Ayew penalty in the first half gave the Black Stars a 1-0 win over Uganda.

The match played at the Stade de Port-Gentil in Port-Gentil, Gabon was the first game in Group D.

The Cranes dominated the early exchanges but the tables turned after half-an-hour of play.

Black Stars Captain Asamoah Gyan’s attempt to take advantage of an elementary error by Ethiopia-based Isaac Isinde saw him brought down in the penalty area.

Deputy Captain Andre Dede Ayew stepped up to convert the resultant penalty kick, sending Africa’s 2016 best player on the continent, Dennis Onyango, in the wrong direction.

The goal was the second consecutive from-the-spot goal the Black Stars have scored against the Ugandans in their past three meetings. Ayew scored one in 2014 in a 1-1 draw at the Kumasi Sports Stadium in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

The half ended 1-0. However, Schalke 04’s Baba Rahman picked up an injury, forcing Stars’ coach Avram Grant into a forced substitution.

He brought on Belgium-based Frank Acheampong before the break.

The second half saw Cranes’ coach Milutin ‘Michu’ Sredojevic push in more strikers in search of an equaliser.

Rio Ave’s Luwata Kizito as well as 19-year-old Muhammad Shaban, adjudged Uganda’s Best Player in 2016, were some of the players thrown into the action.

Grant’s substitutions came in the form of defensive midfielders Agyemang Badu and Afriyie Acquah coming on for strikers Asamoah Gyan and Jordan Ayew respectively.

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A clear chance for Christian Atsu, later adjudged Man of the Match, saw him hit the ball straight at the Mamelodi Sundowns goalie.

The Stars kept pressure from the Cranes at bay in the dying embers of the game, keeping the score also at 1-0.

Marking his Cup of Nations debut for Ghana, Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey gave a good account of himself, controlling the midfield and winning almost every possession.

Ghana next play Mali on Saturday, January 21 while the Ugandan’s take on record champions Egypt, who also open their campaign with Mali.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana

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