Comoros kicks Ghana out of Afcon

Ghana exited the Africa Cup of Nations in humiliating fashion after being defeated by debutants Comoros in the group round.

Fardou el Ben Nabouhane opened the scoring for the islands, while Ghana were reduced to ten men after Andre Ayew received a straight red card.

Ahmed Mogni added a second goal before the Black Stars rallied to make it 2-2.

Mogni, on the other hand, chipped in his second goal in the 85th minute to condemn Ghana to its first group-stage departure since 2006.

The Group C result will go down as one of the biggest upsets in Nations Cup history, when Comoros scored their first goal at the finals and then went on to win their first match.

Ahmed Mogni (right) downed Ghana in Garoua with two second-half goals

Incredibly, despite losing their first two games in Cameroon, the 132nd-ranked Coelacanths now have a chance to enter the knockout stages as one of four best-ranked third-placed teams.

The minuscule island nation of just under a million inhabitants – more famed for its history of political coups than for its football – had won its first Nations Cup or World Cup qualifier at the 20th attempt in 2016.

A side reinforced by diaspora members, many of whom play in France’s lower leagues, lost just once on their way to qualifying for the first time, and Comoros have now overcome one of the continent’s giants.

Ghana had put up inconsistent performances in their opening two games, losing 1-0 to Morocco and drawing 1-1 with Gabon, and finished bottom of the group table despite a spirited performance following Ayew’s 25th-minute dismissal.

Their fans in Garoua’s Roumde Adjia Stadium appeared startled after the final whistle, forced to reflect on a rollercoaster second half that ended their bid for a first Nations Cup triumph since 1982.

Their departure would raise the strain on coach Milovan Rajevac, who returned to the helm in September for a second stint.

The Serb directed the Black Stars to the Nations Cup final in 2010 and to the World Cup quarter-finals the following year, as well as the West Africans to Africa’s World Cup play-offs this year.

Ghana, on the other hand, won their qualifying group on goal difference from South Africa and are seeded eighth for the play-off draw, where they will face one of Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, or Nigeria for a place in Qatar.

Meanwhile, Comoros enthusiastically celebrated their three points and now await the last round of matches in the remaining three groups to see if their stunning victory may help them extend their tournament stay.

Ghana required a win to qualify for the last 16 and got off to the worst possible start by losing in the fourth minute.

Ibroihim Youssouf was freed down the right flank before finding Ben Nabouhane in the center, and the Comoros captain curled a low left-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the area.

Kamaldeen Sulemana put Comoros goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina under pressure with two shots from outside the box, the second of which proved decisive in the match.

Ben Boina spilled the winger’s strike, and Ayew charged forward to claim the loose ball.

The collision wounded the goalkeeper, and the Ghana captain appeared stunned to be sent off following a video assistant referee review, which revealed he went in with his studs up and made contact with Ben Boina’s upper arm.

Andre Ayew’s red card left Ghana facing an uphill task

The Comoros goalkeeper was injured and forced out during the battle, necessitating the insertion of Ali Ahamada, who entered the competition without a club side.

Mogni twisted and turned the Ghana defense on the outskirts of the area before hitting a low shot past Jojo Wollacott and into the bottom right-hand corner shortly after the hour mark.

The strike caused a collective celebration near the corner flag featuring substitutes – but Ghana erupted quickly.

Richmond Boakye swung in a header from a corner, and Ghana equalized in the 77th minute from another set piece after Ahamada punched away two threatening balls in from Daniel-Kofi Kyereh.

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey flicked on a corner, which Alexander Djiku converted from close range to restore the Black Stars’ chances of qualifying.

However, those hopes were dashed five minutes from time when Bendjaloud Youssouf cut the ball back for Mogni, securing a memorable victory for Comoros.

Ghana, who appear to be short of leaders of the type of Asamoah Gyan, the striker who guided them to the World Cup’s final eight 12 years ago, now have the task of regrouping ahead of March’s World Cup play-offs.

Source BBC
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