soccer Football – Africa Cup of Nations – Group C – Morocco v Ghana – Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde, Cameroon – January 10, 2022 Ghana players huddle after losing the match
Antoine Semenyo snatched a last-gasp winner to give Ghana coach Chris Hughton a perfect debut with a 1-0 victory over Angola on Thursday in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
The Bournemouth forward slammed the ball into the net on 96 minutes after a free-kick led to a goalmouth melee in the top-of-the-table Group E showdown in Kumasi.
Hughton, the former manager of several Premier League clubs, and a capacity 40,000 crowd had seen Ghana come close to breaking the deadlock several times before Semenyo struck.
Central African Republic, one of 10 countries who have never qualified for the finals, drew level with Angola on points after beating Madagascar 3-0 in Antananarivo.
The winners welcomed back Atletico Madrid midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, who quit two years ago after slamming the way Central African officials treated him and his teammates.
Ghana, whose last of four Cup of Nations titles came in 1982, top the table with seven points, Angola and Central African Republic have four each and Madagascar one.
Avram Grant was another former Premier League manager in a celebratory mood after his first match in charge of Zambia ended in a 3-1 victory over Lesotho, and the Group H leadership.
“I am happy that the team responded well and did not give up after conceding, but there is a lot of work to be done,” cautioned the ex-Chelsea and West Ham boss.
After Lesotho grabbed a shock lead in Ndola, Fashion Sakala levelled before half-time and Lameck Banda bagged a second-half brace.
South Sudan shock Congo
Zambia have six points, the Ivory Coast four, the Comoros three and Lesotho one in the only mini-league where the top two finishers do not automatically qualify.
As hosts of the finals next January and February, the Ivory Coast are guaranteed a place, and the highest placed of the other three teams will accompany them.
The Ivorians are playing qualifiers to gain competitive match practice ahead of the 24-nation African football showpiece.
South Sudan shocked Congo 2-1 in Brazzaville despite having Peter Manyang red-carded soon after Peter Chol had given the visitors a second half lead.
Thievy Bifouma equalised from a penalty in the last minute of regular time only for Tito Okello to put South Sudan ahead again six minutes into added time.
Mali top Group G with six points while Congo, Gambia and South Sudan have three each. The South Sudanese are another side seeking a first finals appearance.
“To have a chance of qualifying we must get results in our two matches against Congo. We must now plan well for the return game against them next week,” said Italian coach Stefano Cusin.
Gabon took a three-point lead over Mauritania in Group I thanks to defender Lloyd Palun, whose second half goal produced a 1-0 win over Sudan in Franceville.
The result spoilt the debut of former Morocco goalkeeper Badou Zaki as coach of Sudan, who have never gone past the Cup of Nations quarter-finals since winning the 1970 tournament they hosted.