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Strong defensive performance and goalkeeping gaffe are enough in Black Stars win over Ethiopia

Ghana did just enough to secure a 1-0 home win over Ethiopia in their FIFA World Cup qualifying opener on Friday, aligning themselves as the pace setters in Group G even if the performance drew mixed reviews from Black Stars supporters. Wakaso Mubarak scored the winning goal in the first half with his long range shot dipping and somehow finding a way between the legs of Ethiopia keeper Teklemariam Shanko. Ghana move into first place in the group following the 0-0 draw between Zimbabwe and South Africa earlier in the day.

Black Stars manager Charles Akonnor put out an experienced starting eleven and took few risks with his selection. 19-year-old rising star Kamal Deen Sulemana was given a start to see if the explosive winger could boost an attack that has been overly dependent on André and Jordan Ayew for goals, but the immediate results were not satisfying to Ghanaian supporters. Both teams struggled to generate opportunities in the early exchanges and Ghana allowed an Ethiopia side notorious for poor performances on the road to get settled a bit too easily.

After a very promising start for Ethiopia, the visitors went down due to a self inflicted wound. Mubarak Wakaso attempted a speculative shot from 35 yards out that was struck well but appeared to have little chance of going in. However, the ball dipped as Ethiopia keeper Shanko stooped down to collect and the short hop snuck through his hands and between his legs for an embarrassing concession by the Ethiopian Coffee custodian. After a solid start, the gaffe was a devastating blow to the Walias.

With a 1-0 lead coming out for the second half, Ghana appeared set to push on and attempt to extend their deficit, but lacked fluid buildup play and were slow to exploit any gaps in the Ethiopian defense. A 48th minute free kick from Jordan Ayew was not too challenging and was tipped wide. The visitors did not threaten too much, with star playmaker Shimelis Bekele’s foray past a couple of Black Stars defenders in the 57th minute causing a bit of alarm, but the Misr Lel Makkasa player scuffed his shot far wide.

Ghana saw out the match well and the defense stayed firm throughout the 90 minutes. Known for their attack, Ethiopia had a golden opportunity to get a rare road point but just could not make any inroads against a Black Stars defense anchored by center back pairing Daniel Amartey and Alexander Djiku as well as Iddrisu Baba Mohammed in the defensive midfield. The real test will come for Ghana when they travel to South Africa on Monday to see if Akonnor’s defensive oriented approach is a winning formula.

Click the link below to check out video highlights of the match.

FIFA TV Highlights

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