The Black Stars of Ghana rounded up the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) –Cameroon 2021 – qualifiers with a 3-1 thrashing of Sao Tome and Principe at the Accra Sports Stadium, yesterday.
Goals from Nicholas Opoku, Jordan Ayew and Baba Rahman ensured the Black Stars ended the campaign on top of Group C with 13 points having secured qualification after their previous 1-1 draw match against South Africa on Thursday.
Sao Tome and Principe capitalized on a howler from Razak Abalora in the 83rd minute to score a consolation through Jokceleny Ferandes.
The game was practically a training session for the Black Stars who dominated the game as the Islanders offered little in terms of threat.
It was also an opportunity for Coach C.K Akonnor to give his new boys a chance to justify their inclusion in the squad for next year’s AFCON.
One of such players was Nicholas Opoku who scored his first goal for the Stars in the 12th minute to give Ghana the lead following a superb header from a Mohammed Kudus’ corner.
The Stars had a penalty after Jordan Ayew, who was through on goal, was brought down in the box by his marker in the 30th minute.
The Crystal Palace attacker stepped up to expertly fire home to double Ghana’s lead.
Ghana almost made it three in the 39th minute but Kudus surprisingly played into the waiting arms of the visitors’ goalkeeper.
Ghana resumed the second half fired up with the introduction of Accra Great Olympics playmaker Gladson Awako.
Awako had an immediate impact as he nearly scored his first goal in the national colours in the 53rd minute but shot wide from close range.
The third goal came in the 60th minute through an unfamiliar source, Baba Rahman who tapped in beautifully from a Mohammed Kudus pass.
Meanwhile, Sudan triumphed 2-0 over South Africa to sail through to the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations – at Bafana Bafana’s expense.
First half goals from Saifeldin Maki and Mohammed Abdelrahman did the damage for Sudan, taking them to their first finals since 2012.
Going into the game in the Al-Hilal Stadium in Omdurman, South Africa knew a draw would be enough to qualify – but instead they imploded against a Sudan side fired with real purpose and motivation.
And after Maki gave Sudan a lead on 14 minutes, the Falcons of Jediane never looked back.
Half an hour into the game, Sudan scored their critical second – a stunning solo effort from Abdelrahman, who picked the ball up out wide halfway inside the South Africa half, burst into the penalty area and beat both the last man and the goalkeeper with the same move.
It is the first time Sudan have qualified for an African Cup of Nations finals since 2012 – and only the third time since 1976 for the country that won the trophy in 1970.
Earlier, Group J concluded with an exciting game in Tunis in which a fourth-minute Jaziri goal and an Akapo own goal helped Tunisia to a 2-1 win over Equatorial Guinea.
Tanzania, meanwhile, beat Libya 1-0 thanks to a scrambled goal from Simon Msuva.
And in Group A – from which Chad had already been disqualified – Namibia beat group winners Guinea 2-1 thanks to two goals from captain Peter Shalulile. Mamadou Kane scored Guinea’s effort.
BY MICHAEL D. ABAYATEYE