Ghana have effectively secured qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after claiming a 2-0 away win over Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Sunday afternoon.
With Caf yet to make a final decision in regards to Sierra Leone (who have been banned by Fifa and therefore barred from playing the last three rounds of qualifiers) and their status in group F, the Black Stars’ place at the 2019 finals is not fully confirmed.
But if and when Caf award 3-0 wins to Sierra Leone’s opponents for the three missing games (two of which were against Ghana), James Kwesi Appiah’s side will be mathematically guaranteed a place in the top two of the group, and therefore safely into the draw for Cameroon 2019.
Ghana claimed the lead as early as the third minute, catching Ethiopia’s defence very square to send Jordan Ayew into space – the Crystal Palace forward coolly picked his spot and stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Midway through the first half the Black Stars were awarded a penalty after Emmanuel Boateng was tripped by goalkeeper Abel Mamo. Jordan Ayew took on the spot kick and easily converted to double the visitors’ lead in the 24th minute.
The Black Stars were in cruise control from then on, looking only to manage the game by holding Ethiopia at arm’s length and counter attacking whenever the opportunity arose. The Wayla Antelopes grew in confidence near the end of the first half, but were unable to make any real inroads before the interval.
The second half saw Ghana maintain the status quo: they controlled the game and kept any threat from the home side under wraps, but struggled to click into higher gears going forward.
Andre Ayew had the ball in the back of the net with just under 10 minutes of regulation time left to play, but his hopes of a third goal for the team were dashed, with the referee blowing for a clear and obvious foul from the forward on a defender.
In the end Ghana held out for a comfortable and important victory, though their performance – apart from the opening 25 minutes – left much to be desired.