Mozambique rally late to send Ghana to brink of AFCON exit

Ghana’s Alidu Seidu (left) duels for the ball with Mozambique’s Nanana during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match. AP

Mozambique scored two goals in the stoppage time to hold Ghana to a 2-2 draw in their Group B clash at the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, a result that is likely to end the challenge of the much-fancied west Africans.

Two penalties from Jordan Ayew had Ghana comfortably ahead and looking well placed to finish second in the group behind the Cape Verde Islands, but a late rally handed Mozambique a share of the spoils.

It was not enough for Mozambique, who finished bottom of the group, but only behind Ghana on goal difference.

Two points from three matches is not likely to be enough for Ghana to qualify for the knockout rounds as one of four best third-placed finishers.

Ghana will have to wait for the conclusion of the first round matches on Wednesday before knowing their fate but at previous tournaments two points has proven insufficient to progress as one of the lucky losers.

“We didn’t play at the level we could have, our energy levels we’re not up where they should be,” Ghana coach Chris Hughton said.

“When you are 2-0 up you don’t expect to concede like we did. We put ourselves in peril when we had to make sure of securing the result.”

Libyan referee Mutaz Ibrahim awarded three penalties in the game, all for handballs.
Jordan Ayew netted the first in the 15th minute and then a second after 70 minutes following a decision that seemed harsh on Mozambique centre back Reinildo, who had an outstanding game.

Dede Ayew, who had come on at halftime for a record 37th Cup of Nations finals appearance, was then caught out for a handball one minute into stoppage time, suddenly offering Mozambique the possibility of a comeback.

Geny Catamo converted the kick and then three minutes later swung in the corner that Reinildo headed home to secure the equaliser.

Ghana, who were one of five African teams at the last World Cup and coached by former Premier League manager Hughton, have looked unconvincing throughout their three games in the Ivory Coast, which included a surprise loss to the Cape Verde Islands in their first match.

Cape Verde topped the group on seven points and Egypt were second on three, having drawn all their games 2-2.