In a captivating Group A encounter held in Rabat, the Black Meteors of Ghana emerged victorious, although they faced nail-biting moments in the dying minutes when Congo mounted an impressive comeback from a 3-0 deficit.
After a goalless first half where both sides exhibited resilience, Ghana returned to the pitch with an insatiable hunger for goals at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat.
Ghana’s head coach, Ibrahim Tanko, injected fresh energy into the team by introducing Emmanuel Yeboah and Hafiz Ibrahim, replacing Afriyie Barnieh and Sylvester Simba, respectively, and their impact was instantaneous.
Just five minutes after Ernest Nuamah handed Ghana the lead with a simple tap-in from Emmanuel Yeboah’s well-executed cross from the right wing, the Ghanaian squad continued to surge forward in search of further goals.
However, Congo’s Borel Tomandzoto caused some trouble for the Ghanaian backline as he dribbled past a defender, but his shot failed to find the target.
Nonetheless, in the 75th minute, Emmanuel Yeboah etched his name on the scoresheet as he outpaced a defender on the left wing and unleashed a well-placed low shot that left the Congo goalkeeper beaten.
The Black Meteors relentlessly pressed on, and their efforts paid off when Congo’s Djigo Saikou committed a foul inside the box, leading to the referee awarding a penalty after 83 minutes.
Yeboah confidently converted the penalty, extending Ghana’s lead to 3-0. However, the referee ordered a retake after the Congo goalkeeper, Dhody Bissila, moved before the ball was struck, nullifying Yeboah’s successful attempt. Bissila received a caution for his premature actions.
In the third minute of added time, Congo managed to salvage a goal when substitute Reich Kokolo expertly headed in a well-delivered free kick. A minute later, Yann Kouori-Ngatse capitalized on Ghana’s defensive lapses to score Congo’s second goal.
Looking ahead, Ghana will return to action on Tuesday with a crucial Group A clash against hosts Morocco, while Congo Brazzaville will also take on Guinea in the day’s second match. In the opening match on Saturday, Morocco secured a 2-1 victory over Guinea.
The stage is set for another exhilarating round of U23 AFCON clashes as the teams strive to make their mark in the tournament.