An improved second half display after introduction of first team players ensured Ghana’s Black Stars beat Mauritania 3-1 in a friendly Tuesday.
The match played before a sparse crowd at the Accra Stadium saw Ghana’s newbie Caleb Ansah Ekuban scoring his second international goal in as many cameo roles. Striker Kwesi Appiah – who has returned after four years absence – also netted on the day. Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey – who was handed the captain’s band – completed the scoring for the Stars.
Coach Kwasi Appiah ringed nine changes to the team that piped Kenya 1-0 in the final qualifier of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations last Saturday, handing debut roles to Asante Kotoko captain Amos Frimpong who operated from right-back and Genk centre-back Joseph Aidoo.
Goalkeeper Lawrence Ati got the nod in between the sticks with Lumor Agbenyenu and Nicholas Opoku completing the backline. Alhassan Wakaso, Alfred Duncan, Jeffery Schlupp and Ernest Asante formed a midfield quartet with Thomas Partey supporting AFC Wimbledon’s Kwesi Appiah up front.
Ghana ushered themselves into the game with clear intentions earning a penalty just two minutes into the game when Kwesi Appiah was brought down in the 18-yard box by Mohammed Dellah Yaly. The attacker elected himself to take it and expertly converted by sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Despite scoring early to unsettle the Mauritanians, Appiah’s charges failed to keep the momentum as the visitors took control of the game.
The Lions of Chingueti fought hard pushing to pull parity but were undone by lack of precision. They reorganized themselves in midfield preventing their hosts from controlling the game.
However, with few minutes to end the first half Ghana created some decent chances. In one of those situations, Thomas Partey capitalized on a defensive blunder by Diaw El Mostapha, but Namori Diaw met his effort equally a good save.
The referee bought the half to an end after the Stars failed to double their lead despite two good opportunities with Ernest Asante and Kwesi Appiah being the culprits.
After recess, both sides made quick changes. Caleb Ekuban and Christian Atsu replaced Kwesi Appiah and Ernest Asante respectively while the Mauritanians also made one change with Adama Ba coming in for Khalil Moulaye.
Substitute Adama Ba scored straight from a free-kick to level up for the visitors.
Coach Kwasi Appiah quickly brought on Jordan Ayew, Mubarak Wakaso, Kwame Bonsu and Felix Annam in a bid to prevent any unexpected outcome. The substation paid off as the Black Stars fetched two quick goals in the 70th and 72nd minutes through Caleb Ekuban and Thomas Partey.
Having scored the needed goals, the Stars started playing some well-passing game to the delight of the few supporters at the VIP stands.
Both sides tried to hit the back of the net again but were unsuccessful following some superb goalkeeping from both goalies.
Ghana XI: Lawrence Ati-Zigi – Thomas Partey, Amos Frimpong, Lumor Agbenyenu, Nicholas Opoku, Jospeh Aidoo – Alhassan Wakaso, Alfred Duncan, Ernest Asante, Jeffery Schlupp, Kwesi Appiah
Mauritania XI: Namori Diaw – Diaw El Mostapha, N’diaye Bakare, Yaly Mohammed Dellah, Abeid Aly, Thiam Abdoul Kader, Guidileye Dialo, Coulibaly Ibrahim, ElId El Hacen, Anne Souleymane, Khalil Moulaye Ahmed