Cape Verde strike late to claim Ghana scalp at Cup of Nations

AFP , Monday 15 Jan 2024

Substitute Garry Rodrigues pounced in injury time to give Cape Verde a shock 2-1 win over four-time former champions Ghana in their opening game at the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

Cape Verde s
Cape Verde s forward #11 Garry Rodrigues takes off his jersey as he celebrates scoring his team s second goal during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group B football match between Ghana and Cape Verde at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on January 14, 2024. AFP

The Black Stars looked set to come away with a draw after Alexander Djiku headed home to cancel out a Jamiro Monteiro goal for Cape Verde at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

Majeed Ashimeru was also denied a goal for Ghana following a lengthy VAR check, but Cape Verde grabbed three points in the Group B match as Rodrigues found the net at the death.

It was a fine victory for the island nation, who reached the knockout stage at the last AFCON, and puts them top of the section after group rivals Egypt and Mozambique drew 2-2 earlier.

The evening was also notable for the second-half appearance as a substitute of Andre Ayew, with the 34-year-old becoming only the third player to feature in eight editions of the competition.

He now shares the record with Rigobert Song, currently coach of Cameroon, and Egyptian Ahmed Hassan.

Yet of far greater concern to Ghanaians is the result for a country whose tally of AFCON victories is bettered only by Egypt and Cameroon.

However, their last title came in 1982 and they went out of the last edition two years ago in the group stage.

Chris Hughton's team also came here off the back of a 1-0 defeat to the Comoros in a 2026 World Cup qualifier in November, and there are doubts about their chances of making a big impact in Ivory Coast.

Their prospects in this game were not helped by the fact that Mohammed Kudus, enjoying a fine season at West Ham United in the English Premier League, was missing from the line-up and not even on the bench.

Cape Verde went ahead in the 17th minute when Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori turned out a shot by Jovane Cabral and Monteiro, who has spent much of his career in MLS, followed in to score.

Ghana, with significant backing among the crowd of just under 12,000, thought they had equalised in the 36th minute.

Ashimeru, of Anderlecht, rifled a shot from outside the area low into the corner, just after an Antoine Semenyo cross was cleared by goalkeeper Vozinha and ricocheted back onto the woodwork off Ghana forward Ransford-Yeboah Koenigsdoerffer.

Yet the goal was ruled out following a long VAR check, with the referee apparently ruling that Koenigsdoerffer was blocking the goalkeeper's line of sight as he came back from an offside position.

Djiku headed in Jordan Ayew's delivery to make it 1-1 on 56 minutes, and Ghana then sent on Ayew as well as Ernest Nuamah and Inaki Williams as they hoped to find a winner.

Yet their defence appeared susceptible and the goal that won it for Cape Verde was a horror show for the Ghanaians, as Ofori failed to deal with a low ball into the box and Rodrigues converted to spark wild celebrations.

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