Black Stars keep 2026 World Cup dream alive with win over Central African Republic


By Ernest Bako WUBONTO

The national senior football team, the Black Stars, managed to grab a scrappy win over the Central African Republic to keep their hopes alive for qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, to be jointly hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

The Stars’ hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Central African Republic (CAR) at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi in their latest World Cup qualifying match means that they remain the favorite to top their group. The crucial win sees Ghana move to the top of their qualifying group with nine points, three points clear of Madagascar and Comoros, who are yet to play their fourth match respectively.

The Black Stars took an early lead in the 6th minute with a spot-kick beautifully placed by Jordan Ayew into the back of the net. The stadium was charged, and the excitement was on a different level, but this jubilant mood was very short-lived. Just five minutes later, Louis Mafouta capitalized on a defensive error to provide an equalizer for the away team in the 11th minute.

This equalizer left the thousands of supporters heartbroken but hopeful of a bounce back. However, just when the game seemed to be settling, with the Stars showing some level of dominance over their opponents, the away team struck again. The Central African Republic’s star striker, Mafouta, grabbed a brace in the 39th minute to put his team in the lead. The Baba Yara Stadium was silent like a cemetery for the remaining minutes of the first half, and halftime was a moment of agitation and expression of disappointment in some players’ performance by the fans.

The Stars returned from the break more determined than before and started mounting pressure right from the referee’s whistle. But the CAR team remained resolute and defended with all their might. Nonetheless, the Stars got back level in the 59th minute through Jordan Ayew, who pounced on a cross from Gideon Mensah to head the ball into the net.

The excitement on the faces of the supporters was clear to see. They believed there was still more time to grab a win. And indeed, their hopes were in the right direction. Just three minutes after that equalizer, a shot from Fataw Issahaku was deflected past the goalkeeper into the net, giving Ghana the all-important lead once again.

At this moment, the stadium was booming with chanting, singing, and jumping; you name any form of jubilation, and it was present. The various supporters’ unions displayed their colourful signature jubilation dance moves.

The Stars Coach, Otto Addo, then made his first substitution in the 65th minute with English Premier League side, Bournemouth striker, Antoine Semenyo coming on to replace Kamaldeen Sulemana.

Shortly after, the stadium went gaga in the 68th minute, when the Black Stars grabbed their fourth goal with a hattrick for Jordan Ayew who was playing his 120th match for Ghana. A shot from Mohammed Kudus was saved by the goalkeeper but only for the ball to fall right to the feet of the Crystal Palace star player who placed it comfortably at the back of the net.

In the 89th minute, Louis Mafouta also got his hat trick for the CAR side in what ended the game 4-3 in favour of Ghana.

Ghana coach Otto Addo praised his team’s resilience and determination in grinding out the victory against a stubborn Central African Republic side.

“We knew this would be a tough and challenging match, but the players showed great character to get the job done,” said Addo after the game.

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