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World Cup

Kudus, Andre Ayew shine but errors cost Ghana in World Cup opener against Portugal

2:22 AM SGT 25/11/22
Andre Ayew and Mohammed Kudus of Ghana
Mohammed Kudus and Andre Ayew played starring roles as Ghana came close to snatching a draw with Portugal before losing 3-2 in their World Cup opener.
  • Kudus was the most industrious player for Ghana
  • Ajax star created Ghana’s opening goal scored by Andre Ayew
  • Black Stars let down by basic errors in possession & defence

WHAT HAPPENED? Kudus was the star of the show and his enterprising display yielded Ghana’s opening goal eight minutes after Cristiano Ronaldo had given Portugal the lead following a questionable challenge from Mohammed Salisu.

Ronaldo went down in the box after what looked like a 50-50 challenge for the ball but the referee pointed to the spot and even the protests from Ghana players did not change his mind or convince him to review the incident via VAR.

But moments after the goal, Kudus, who had been lively in the contest, found himself in space on the left side of Ghana’s attack and brought a ball in the box which was poked home by captain Andre Ayew in what was his 24th goal on his 111th appearance for Ghana.

However, Ghana’s lead lasted just five minutes as Joao Felix made it 2-1 after getting past Salisu before substitute Rafael Leao scored to make it 3-1 two minutes later after Jordan Ayew gave away possession easily.

Osman Bukari, who had just came on, headed home Ghana’s second after a beautiful cross from Abdul-Rahman Baba to set up a tense finale.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ghana withstood early pressure from Portugal with goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi saving one-on-one from Ronaldo as the Black Stars soaked in the pressure in an effort to prevent their opponents from opening them up.

Ghana coach Otto Addo opted for a back five with the intention of shutting the Portuguese and he got just that in the first half as the European side found it difficult, even if the approach restricted Ghana going forward.

The Black Stars had to wait until the second half for their first shot on target and it came from Kudus, whose powerful run forward saw him shoot just wide in the 55th minute before he came close again with the second shot 10 minutes later.

The Ajax man then got an assist for Ghana’s opening goal after his tenacity saw him get into the box before squaring for Ayew to score.

ALL EYES ON: Kudus came into the game on the back of good form from his club where he has scored 10 goals and provided two assists and he was the brightest player in the Black Stars team until he was replaced with 14 minutes remaining.

THE VERDICT: Ghana have the quality to compete in their group which also has South Korea and Uruguay, but they will need to show bravery and cut out basic errors, if they are to advance to the knockout rounds. The Black Stars looked more threatening when they started to attack late on but it proved to be too little too late.

WHAT’S NEXT? Ghana face South Korea in their next match on Monday, hoping for a positive outcome to get their campaign back on track.