Port Elizabeth, Jan. 20, GNA- Ghana relinquished a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with the Democratic Republic of Congo in a Group B opener at the Africa Cup on Nations ongoing in South Africa.
The Black Stars playing ordinarily against a disciplined Congolese side went into recess with a goal advantage after Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, sent the team into the lead in the 39th minutes to cap his fine display on the afternoon.
A nice build up started by Albert Adomah that roped in Gyan, and Asamoah found Badu. The midfielder adjudged the Fair Player of the match stretched to foot the ball while in the grip of his marker to put Ghana ahead.
The goal which marks the tournament’s first came against the run of play following many nervy moments expertly caused by the Congolese midfield that was made rich by veteran Tresor Lualua and Tresor Mputu.
The game started on a high note with Ghana earning a corner under one minute after Christian Atsu tore away on the flank and unleashed a cross that was wasted.
DR Congo’s response was immediate with Lualua squeezing a corner off the Ghana defence marshalled around John Boye and Jerry Akaminko.
The Stars were let off the hook in the 13th minute when Dieudonne Mbokani’s shot kissed the cross bar with goalkeeper Fatua Dauda lost in action before Badu raced to whisk to safety.
While the Leopards enjoyed the better of play, Ghana occasionally broke and one of such moves arrived just on the stroke of half time when Badu initiated a fine move, tore away after winning a challenge, raced and dashed on to Gyan, but Mabiala Larry robbed the later off the opportunity to pounce.
From the break, Lualua oiled the Leopards midfield even better, proving a mouthful for Derek Boateng who laboured in vain to stamp his authority with Badu running all over the place.
Soon, Dauda was called to duty after he dived to save from Mputu after the slippery advancing player was fouled by Jerry Akaminko around the area.
When the tied turned, Adomah should have consolidated Ghana’s lead on 47 minutes but goalkeeper Robert Kdiaba denied him by diving beyond his elastic limit to keep the scores unchanged.
A second on, Asamoah sent Ghana soaring with a header from Mubarak Wakasu’s corner to set the stadium well patronised by Ghanaian supporters agog.
With their backs against the wall, the Leopards intensified a fight of redemption which paid off with Mputu pulling a goal back when he gifted from poor defending to ghost past the Stars back line in the 53rd minute.
The goal proved the tonic the Congolese needed with Coach Claude Le Roy throwing more men upfront. In one of their many moves, they earned a penalty after Akaminko fouled Mbokani in the penalty box.
Mbokani elected himself in search for parity, and did to tie the game for the Leopards.
The disappointment on the Ghanaian faces after the equalizer was telling. When the Stars got moving again, it was debutant, Wakaso who forced out an impeccable save from Kidiaba with an excellent free kick just away from the box.
Dauda had to emulate his opposite number’s example to keep Ghana in the game in the 82nd minutes after diving short and fast to palm away Mbokani ‘s spin deep from the six yard box.
Ghana next play Mali on Thursday at the same venue.
Fatua Dauda, John Painstil, Kwadwo Asamoah, Jerry Akaminko, John Boye, Derek Boateng, Albert Adomah/ Afful Harrison, Agyemang Badu, Asamoah Gyan, Christain Atsu/Rabui Mohammed, Wakaso Mubarak
(By Veronica Commey, GNA correspondent in Port Elizabeth, courtesy Ministry of Youth and Sports)