Madagascar coach Romuald Rakotondrabe admitted defeat in the quest to stop the impactful performance of Ghana midfielder Majeed Ashimeru during Friday's 1-0 victory at the Baba Yara Stadium in the 2026 World Cup qualifier.
Rakotondrabe acknowledged the pivotal role played by Ashimeru, who entered the game in the second half, replacing Iddrisu Baba.
The coach revealed, "In the first 45 minutes, we were able to challenge Ghana. In the second half, he brought Majeed Ashimeru, and that changed everything. I told the boys to stop him because he brought energy. We tried and tried [but it did not work]."
Ashimeru's introduction provided Ghana with an advantage, as his dynamic presence in the midfield, characterized by driving runs and precise passes, altered the course of the game.
Despite the coach's efforts to neutralize Ashimeru's influence, Ghana found the breakthrough in the 95th minute, courtesy of Inaki Williams' close-range header.
Rakotondrabe acknowledged that the match was evenly balanced, with Madagascar even holding a slight advantage until Ashimeru's introduction.
Despite the defeat, the coach remains optimistic about the team's ability to challenge strong opponents like Ghana, expressing determination for future games.
For Ashimeru, the 26-year-old midfielder, the Friday match marked his third appearance for Ghana.