Brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew were on target yesterday as Ghana’s Black Stars booked their place in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations semifinals with a 2-1 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Stade d’Oyem in the Gabonese city Oyem.
The Black Stars came to life in the second half and despite a cracking strike from Paul-José M’Poku, Ghana rallied to book their place in the final four for the sixth Afcon tournament in succession. Ghana joins Burkina Faso and Cameroon in the semifinals.
The Leopards carried on from where they left off in the group stages and should have been a goal up seven minutes in.
A defensive blunder by Harrison Afful opened the door for Dieumerci Mbokani; the Hull City forward duly skipped past Brimah Razak, but could only succeed in directing his resulting shot onto the post with the goal at his mercy.
Ghana struggled to break down a very organised Leopards side, in contrast, Florent Ibenge’s men were almost conjuring chances at will.
And after Mbokani held off three defenders before setting up the in form Junior Kabananga – the Kazakhstan-based attacker could only succeed in seeing his left-footed shot well over the crossbar in the 26th minute of the clash.
Most of the game was concentrated in the middle of the park, but DR Congo were clearly the more confident of the two sides with goal-minder Ley Matampi a mere spectator in the opening stanza.
DR Congo created one last chance before the break with Chancel Mbemba unable to direct his header on target, having sneaked in at the back post from a free-kick.
Ghana came out a different unit following the break with Andre Ayew testing Matampi almost immediately from the kick-off. Mubarak Wakaso was then brilliantly denied by Matampi minutes later as the west Africans came to life.
Ghana would get their goal in the 63rd minute through Aston Villa Jordan Ayew. Wakaso was the provider as he won the ball back before feeding his teammate; Jordan skipped past Merveille Bope before curling the ball into the back of the net for the games opener.
Their joy, though, would be short-lived as DR Congo hit back five minutes later. A quickly taken free-kick played to M’Poku, who hit home a right-footed rocket from range to send the Leopards fans into delirium, 1-1.
Ghana, though, would not be denied a place in the final four and after Joyce Lomalisa was adjudged to have brought down Christian Atsu inside the area, Andre Ayew duly converted from 12 yards in the 78th minute.
Cédric Bakambu squandered two late chances for DR Congo as Ghana just about held their nerve. Victory moves them one step closer to winning a first African crown since 1982.