The Black Stars of Ghana were held to a goalless draw by the Barea of Madagascar in the penultimate Group E match of the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The Black Stars couldn’t secure all three points at Mahamasina Stadium in Antananarivo, as their 24th qualification to the AFCON would be determined in the last round of matches.
Ghana still leads the group with nine points, followed by Angola with eight points, while the Central African Republic have seven points.
Madagascar has no chance of qualification as they are bottom with two points.
Black Stars coach Chris Hughton made a surprise exclusion from the starting line-up, benching Mohammed Kudus while Dede Ayew made it back to the starting line-up.
With left back Gideon Mensah missing out through injury, Patrick Kpozo made his first start for the Black Stars.
The Black Stars were very decent on the field in the opening quarter of the game but struggled to break the strong Madagascar defence.
Sulemana Kamaldeen had Ghana’s first opportunity halfway through the first half, but his curled effort went wide off the post.
The confidence of the home side grew as the match progressed, and they nearly took the lead in the 35th minute, but Betrand’s effort went off target.
Ghana’s first shot on target came in the 56th minute after Partey’s 30-yard free-kick was saved by Madagascar goalkeeper Razakanirina.
It was a fairly balanced second half, with Madagascar looking more dangerous on the counter-attack as the Black Stars lived dangerously.
Mohammed Kudus made a late cameo in the game to salvage all three points, but the Madagascar side held their lines and prevented the Black Stars from scoring at the end of regulation time.
The last group match would see Ghana take on the Central African Republic, while Madagascar would take on already eliminated Madagascar.
Black Stars Starting XI: Lawrence Ati-Zigi (GK), Dennis Odoi, Patrick Kpozo, Daniel Amartey, Joseph Aidoo, Salis Samed, Thomas Partey, Kamaldeen Sulemana (Ernest Nuamah, 61mins), Joseph Paintil (Osman Bukari, 73mins), Jordan Ayew (Mohammed Kudus, 80mins) Dede Ayew