Avram Grant’s Ghana face an uphill battle to reach the knock-out stages of the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea after a wretched start to the competition saw them lose 2-1 to a last-minute Senegal goal in Mongomo on Monday.
Ghana, who shared a pulsating 2-2 draw with eventual winners Germany at last year’s World Cup, were dealt a large blow in the build-up to the game when captain Asamoah Gyan was ruled out after being diagnosed with mild malaria.
They did not seem to have been hindered by the striker’s absence, taking the lead in the 14th minute through André Ayew’s penalty after Everton’s Christian Atsu was fouled by Senegal goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.
However, Senegal gradually took charge and equalised midway through the second half through Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf, who headed home after his initial effort bounced back to him off the post.
Just when it looked as though Ghana would escape with a point, substitute Moussa Sow grabbed a winner with a low shot in the third minute of added time, delighting the small section of Senegal fans in a stadium packed with Ghana supporters.
“It’s very simple. We know that we are capable of beating any team in this competition,” Senegal captain Coundoul said.
“We don’t want this result that has happened,” Grant admitted with Group C reckoned to be just about the hardest in the competition, “but I’m sure as you saw the players showed good mentality and we hope it will be the same next game.”
“It’s good to have three points, but nothing is done yet,” the Senegal coach, Alain Giresse, said.
Tournament favourites Algeria had to battle back from going behind before beating South Africa 3-1 in Group C’s other game.
Algeria, who reached the knock-out stages in last year’s World Cup and took Germany to extra-time, were trailing to Thuso Phala’s 51st-minute goal when South Africa won a penalty. However Bournemouth striker Tokelo Rantie’s spot kick rebounded to safety off the bar.
That let-off lifted the Algerians, who equalised through in the 67th minute when South Africa defender Thulani Hlatshwayo headed into his own goal. Five minutes later Faouzi Ghoulam cut in from the left and slammed a shot inside the near post to give Algeria the lead. Islam Slimani then wrapped up victory with seven minutes to go.Reuse content