A Mubarak Wakaso drive from distance in the first half gave Ghana a winning start against Ethiopia in the African qualifiers to the 2022 Fifa World Cup Friday night.
The Walias defended their lines brilliantly to prevent the Black Stars from finding openings in the Group G encounter at Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
The win means Ghana is leading the group with 3 points after Zimbabwe and South Africa drew goalless earlier.
Both teams approached the game cautiously, with the Black Stars dominating possession but could not create clear-cut chances in attack as Ethiopia defended neatly and passed out well from the back.
Jeffrey Shlupp was forced off in the 27th minute after feeling his hamstring while trying to pick a pass alone in the halfway line. Daniel-Kofi Kyereh came in as a replacement for his Ghana debut.
Wakaso’s long-range effort was let in by goalkeeper Teklemariam Shanko’s dreadful howler, the goalkeeper let the ball pass through his legs in the 35th minute to give Ghana the lead.
There were shouts for a penalty with 5 minutes to half-time when Jordan was brought down in the box after a solo run down the right, but referee Redouane did not heed to the calls.
The first half-ended 1-0 for Ghana.
Akonnor’s side still continued the dominance in terms of possession in the second half with Jordan and Andre Ayew pestering on the shoulders of the Walias’ defence but not finding the cutting edge.
Substitute Yaw Yeboah forced goalkeeper Shanko into making a good save with another long-range effort 15 minutes to time, Andre’s follow-up strike was also kept out.
A relatively relaxed Richard Ofori was sharp to palm down a strong Ethiopian strike 83 minutes after an attacker had caught the ball well inside the box.
The Walias finished the game as the dominant side in the last 10 minutes but could not find the equalizer. Wakaso’s goal was what separated the two sides after 90 minutes.
Ghana will play South Africa three days later in Johannesburg in their next game while Ethiopia hosts Zimbabwe a day later.
By Abdul Karim Adamu Benin