Thursday Nov 11, 2021. 17:05
Ghana’s hopes of advancing into the next phase of 2022 World Cup Qualifiers suffered a major blow on Thursday afternoon when they were held 1-1 by ‘hosts’ Ethiopia at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
The result – which came about thanks to goals from Andre Ayew and Getaneh Kebede – means Bafana Bafana need only avoid defeat away to Ghana on Sunday evening to guarantee top spot in the group and advance into the final phase of qualification.
The Black Stars will need to defeat South Africa in Cape Coast in their final match to have any chance of advancing into the playoffs – and even that may not be enough, depending on Bafana’s result against the Warriors later on Thursday and how a potential head-to-head tie-breaker plays out.
<a href=”https://africanfootball.com/group-standings/1733/2022-FIFA-World-Cup-Qualifiers-Africa” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>2022 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS GROUPS</a>
Ghana bossed the game from early on but had to wait until midway through the first half to make their dominance count, with Andre Ayew scoring a fine goal direct from a free kick – the attacker’s left-footed curler beat Ethiopia goalkeeper Teklemariam Shanko all ends up to make it 1-0 in the 22nd minute.
Four minutes later the Black Stars nearly doubled their advantage through Kamaldeen Sulemana – who shot over to end what would have been a brilliant solo effort – before Ethiopia began to find their feet in attack and twice warmed the palms of goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott before the half-hour mark.
The Walia Ibex spurned a fine chance to level the game on 37 minutes when left-back Ramadan Yesuf pulled a fine ball back from the by-line to find Shimelis Bekele, but the midfielder’s shot was well saved by Wollacott.
The last clear chance of the first half went the way of Ghana, with Shanko flapping at a cross from the left to give Richmond Boakye a glaring chance, but he shot over a virtually unguarded net from close range to leave the score still 1-0 at the break.
Ethiopia were inches away from an equaliser 13 minutes after the restart, with Bekele again finding himself in a good scoring position – this time his shot had the better of the goalkeeper, but rebounded off the angle of post and crossbar.
The Walia Ibex kept plugging away and were finally rewarded in the 72nd minute when Abubeker Nassir did great work to tee up Getaneh Kebede, who showed great composure to control and fire home a volley for 1-1.
Ghana threw the kitchen sink at the East Africans in the dying stages, but they were unable to create any clear chances with which to test Shanko. In fact, Ethiopia had the more threatening moments on the counter but did not capitalise on them.
The teams will wrap up their stage campaign on Sunday 14 November, with Ethiopia away to Zimbabwe in Harare and Ghana hosting South Africa in Cape Coast.
Ethiopia (0) 1 (Kebede 72’)
Ghana (1) 1 (A. Ayew 22’)
Ethiopia: Shanko, Bekele (Ayele 75’), Debebe, Hotessa, Kebede (Meleyo 75’), M. Mohammed (Sherefa 83’), Nassir, Tamene, Tunjo, Yesuf, Yohannes
Ghana: Wollacott, Aidoo, Amartey, A. Ayew (Fatawu 77’), J. Ayew (Ekuban 82’), A.B. Rahman, I.B. Mohammed, Boakye (Wakaso 61’), Kudus, Sulemana (Kyereh 78’), Yiadom