Afcon 2017 qualifier: Wakaso beauty rescues Ghana
This is one of those games you forget about seconds after it ends. Few highlights, horrible misses with the few opportunities that were created, a pitch that looked so bad you cringed for the players sometimes and generally a Nations Cup qualifier that was settled by a rare moment free kick magic by a Ghanaian player to the bitter disappointment of Rwanda and Ghana still top of group G.
Ghana were great value for the three points having asked all the major questions throughout and created the better chances but this was not a game for the skillful for the pretty given the pitch and so it proved. The Black Stars now top group B on six maximum points from two games and have scored eight in two while conceding one. It is an excellent record that underlines the dominance that was expected of the Black Stars in a group with Mauritius, Rwanda and Mozambique.
But the Black Stars had to scrap for this one throughout the 90 minutes largely because of the quality of the pitch. The Amahoro Stadium holds both beautiful and dark memories of Ghana football and the pitch would have it's own horror memories in the minds of the players. The ball could barely move and passing on it was proving a nightmare.
Yet Ghana had a few chances and one of those counted. Jordan Ayew held the ball up well at the edge of the box with four minutes left but was brought down for a free kick 20 meters away. Mubarak Wakaso stood behind the ball and found the right bottom corner of Olivier Kuzeira's goal even as he slipped for the only goal.
It was as much as Ghana deserved at least for the effort they put in and should have been in front before then. Minutes earlier, Jordan Ayew and his brother Dede Ayew combined well in the box before Jordan's beautiful pass opened up space and a golden chance for Solomon Asante eight yards from goal. The TP Mazembe man blew his effort way over the top the disappointment of Avram Grant and his entire team.
Dede Ayew was easily the main attraction in a stadium where he had lifted the African U-20 title six years ago and he could have made it another day to remember had he lost his bearing while the ball took bounce on the bad pitch from a Solomon Asante set up.
Maybe the pitch was part of the home advantage that Rwanda boss Johnny McKinstry talked about but it barely seemed to help the Amavubis themselves whose best opportunities seemed to come from long throw ins on the right. This was one of those classic holidays on the pitch for Razak Braimah in goal for Ghana and the center back pairing of Daniel Amartey and John Boye.
In midfield, Afriyie Acquah put his month from hell behind him to put in another solid shift while Wakasso besides him was excellent as always. And for all the flak that Jordan Ayew receives he proved again that he is handy for Ghana even if he is not scoring, drifting wide and setting up chances for his team mates as he did in winning the freekick that led to the decisive goal.
It is a goal that will also give Avram Grant a great deal of breathing space after the insistent pressure over the last few months over his stay in hotels and his habit of never being around for domestic league games.
As has often been the case in recent years, the Black Stars win away again when it mattered. At this rate, a seventh straight AFCON appearance is beginning to look inevitable.