A dominant performance from Ghana saw the Black Stars emerge victorious by a 3-0 score over Madagascar in their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying opener on Wednesday. Mohammed Kudus, Felix Afena-Gyan and Osman Bukari all tallied to move the Group E favorites into first place alongside fellow winners Angola after the first fixtures. Ghana will travel to Angola for a duel with Central African Republic while Madagascar host Angola.
The visitors from Madagascar hardly threatened while being under siege from the beginning. Ghana found their first couple of opportunities through young playmaker Abdul Fatawu Issahaku in the opening twenty minutes. The Sporting CP player cut inside from the right flank onto his favored left foot and blasted a shot into the side netting in the 15th minute before setting up Afena-Gyan in the penalty area for a shot that was deflected wide.
Madagascar goalkeeper Nina Razakanirina came up with a couple of excellent saves as well to keep Ghana off the scoreboard by halftime, including a close range header in the 34th minute and Jordan Ayew’s long range blast a minute earlier. The Barea had their best chance in the 38th minute when Julio Donisa found space outside the Ghanaian penalty area and slipped a pass to Tsilavina Fanomezantsoa whose open shot was scuffed wide thanks to a late challenge.
However, the constant pressure was always going to be difficult for the visitors to hold off and early into the second half the Black Stars made their breakthrough. In the 53rd minute Afena-Gyan got to the end line and sent in a low cross that snuck by André Ayew and a Malagasy defender before Kudus dispatched his finish with ease. A few minutes later Afena-Gyan redirected a Gideon Mensah cross into the net following a short corner and Ghana were well on their way to three points.
Kudus wrapped up an excellent match with an assist when he redirected debutant Antoine Semenyo’s pass to send another substitute, Osman Bukari, in on goal. The FC Nantes player rounded Razakanirini with ease before slotting into an empty net to wrap up a comfortable victory.
Highlights from Cape Coast are below.