Ghana’s Christian Atsu leaves Kenya’s Dennis Odhiambo for dead during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group “F” qualifier match at the Kasarani Stadium on September 8, 2018. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Ghana fell to a shock 1-0 defeat away to Kenya in their second Group F game of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday.
An own goal from defender Nicholas Opoku just before half-time gave Kenya, who had a man sent off, a famous victory in Nairobi.
The Black Stars were seeking their second straight win after an emphatic 5-0 victory over Ethiopia in the opening game, but Kenya with a masterful defensive display were able to deny Kwesi Appiah’s charges.
Kenya’s breakthrough came in the 39th minute after a period of consistent Ghana dominance. Eric Johana delivered a fine cross into the Ghana box and, under pressure from Michael Olunga, Opoku diverted the cross into his own net.
However, the Black Stars had enough chances to have been at least level. First, Edwin Gyasi combined well with right-back Andy Yiadom to play through Waris, but the Nantes man dragged his effort wide of Patrick Matasi’s goal.
Afriyie Acquah then wriggled his way through a tight space to feed Thomas Partey, whose shot was easily held by Matasi.
Much of Ghana’s attack was being routed through Newcastle United’s Christian Atsu who was getting a lot of time on the ball on the left, but his crosses lacked quality and were being picked up too easily by Matasi.
The Kenya goal six minutes before halftime forced Appiah into early changes for the second half; he threw on Raphael Dwamena for Edwin Gyasi, and while Ghana grew in attacking strength and created more chances in the second half, the finishing deteriorated.
Atsu finally delivered a good cross at the start of the second half but Waris could not apply the finishing touch as it drifted across the face of goal.
Daniel Opare then set up Acquah with a fine cross, but he applied a clearing header instead of a finishing one.
Then, Atsu and Partey attempted to force the issue, playing some fantastic one-two passes before letting the chance slip when the former failed to pull the trigger.
Kenya sat deeper as the half wore on and grew more physical in their defending.
Onyango went a step too far with that physical approach when he brought down Waris when the hitman was clear on goal, and was duly dismissed by Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe.
That still didn’t help Ghana’s course even after Asamoah and Afful were introduced, with Dwamena and Partey both missing big chances.
Ghana will seek to recover from the Nairobi setback with a home game against Sierra Leone in October.