Ghana threw away a two-goal lead in stoppage time as Mozambique came from behind to secure a dramatic draw in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023).
The Black Stars were defeated by the Mambas on goal difference, securing the third spot in Group B. However, their accumulation of two points may fall short of progression.
Facing the possibility of back-to-back AFCON group stage exits and enduring a six-match winless streak, Ghana needed a positive result. In the opening minute, Bournemouth’s Antoine Semenyo tested Ivane Urrubal with a powerful shot from a distance, indicating that Chris Hughton’s team understood the challenge ahead.
The aggressive approach of Ghana materialized moments later when Joseph Paintsil was fouled while dribbling between Mexer and Nanani, earning them a penalty. Despite the apparent softness of the call by Libyan referee Mohamed Ibrahim, Ghana captain J. Ayew showed no mercy, converting the penalty for his 98th cap, while Urrubal remained unmoved.
At halftime, André Ayew’s entrance signaled intent as he surpassed Rigobert Song to become the all-time leader in AFCON appearances, with 37 in eight consecutive tournaments. Despite being cautioned, he urged calm among his teammates when Mozambique’s left-back Bruno Langa posed a threat with a determined effort from Lau King’s cutback.
Just as the Mambas seemed to gain momentum, their hopes were crushed when Ibrahim pointed to the spot again, this time for Mohammed Kudus’ shot hitting Reinildo’s arm. J. Ayew once again took charge, choosing the opposite side and leaving a tormented Urrubal in the wrong direction.
It appeared unjust that two penalty kicks would define Mozambique’s tournament after a 12-year absence, but they earned one of their own. A late consolation came when A. Ayew handled the ball in the box, allowing Geny Catamo to convert. Ghana’s fate was then sealed as Reinildo equalized in stoppage time with a well-timed header. With Egypt also securing a dramatic result in the group’s other tie, Ghana appears poised to exit the group stages for the second consecutive tournament with only two points.