Ghana kept its World Cup qualifying hopes alive when the Black Stars of Ghana beat the Warriors of Zimbabwe 1-0 to complete a back-to-back win in their Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier played yesterday at the National Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Thomas Partey’s superb strike from a set piece in the 31st minute was enough to secure three points for Ghana to keep the heat on South Africa at thetop of Group G with nine points; one behind the South Africans who defeated Ethiopia in the other group game.
It was also a consecutive win for Serbian, Coach Milovan Rajevac who was playing the second game of his second stint with the Black Stars.
Coach Milo as affectionately called in Ghana, made two changes to the squad that won the first leg at the Cape Coast Stadium on Saturday, with Captain Andre Ayew and young sensation Abdul FatawuIssahaku replaced with Benjamin Tetteh and Baba Iddrisu, respectively.
The Black Stars began the game on a bright note with early incursions in the area of the Warriors with Sulemana Kamaldeen coming close in the 10th minute after a superb run into the box.
He was let down badly by his final touch.
The home side came back into the game after Kamaldeen’s scare;dictating the game in the midfield area and initiate attacks to draw first blood.
Their composure nearly fetched the opening goal as Kelvin Mosunde narrowly missed a cross from KhamatBilliat as the Black Stars went to sleep in the 24th minute.
That opportunity no doubt built their confidence as they continued to make several forays into the Stars area and Stars central defensive duo of Jonathan Mensah and Alexander Dziku both found wanting at different times.
Moments later, Zimbabwe almost benefited from a defensive blunder as a back pass from Baba Iddrisu fell to Knowlegde Musonda’s but a quick recovery from goal keeper Jojo Wollacot saved the situation for Ghana.
Ghana came back strongly into the game and began to create chances in a bid to take the lead before half time.
The move paid off in the 31st minute as the Black Stars were awarded a free-kick at the edge of the Warriors area after a Ghanaian marksman was fouled.
Close to 25-yards from goal, captain of the day, Thomas Parteyexcellently delivered an inch-perfect kick which the Zimbabwe goalkeeper failed to parry away.
The Black Stars nearly doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime with Benjamin Tetteh’s shot at close range going off the goal post.
The home side came back strongly in the second half and dominated the early exchanges in search for an equalizer while the Stars defended gallantly and dominated the exchanges and threatened the host area to increase the score.
But against the run of play, Jordan Zumuruwent close to scoring in the 55th minute after he went clear on goal but surprisingly fired wired when he had only goalkeeper Wollacot to beat.
The home side continued to press and gave Ghana a tough time in the defensive.
Despite the initial difficulties, Daniel Amartey and Jonathan Mensah recovered and remained composed to clear their lines.
Sensing danger, Coach Milovan effected a few more changes with Daniel Kofi Kyere coming on for Sulemana Kamaldeen, Andre Ayew replacing the team’s playmaker, Mohammed Kudus while Caleb Ekuban and Samuel Owusu came in for Benjamin Tetteh and Jordan Ayew, respectively.
The changes brought more firepower to the Black Stars as Kofi Kyere nearly found the back of the net with his first touch of the game in the 65th minute.
The last 20 minutes saw the Ghanaians reel under pressure as the Zimbabweans pushed more men forward to save a point for themselves.
They, however, met a stiff oppositions in the Stars defence as Baba Rahman and Amartey worked hard to safeguard the maximum points.
Ghana would play away at Ethiopia next month before hosting South Africa in a game that would determine the country that moves to the next stage of the qualifiers.
BY MICHAEL D. ABAYATEYE