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FIFA 2026 World Cup: Black Stars leave it late to snatch maximum points

Inaki Williams scored the only goal in what appeared to be the last action of the 2026 World Cup Qualifier between the Blacks stars and their counterparts from Madagascar at the Baba Yara Stadium on Friday.

A swift attack from the left which was headed home by the Athletic Bilbao forward denied the visitors who had played their hearts out and were on the way to securing a vital away point.

On a day that Coach Chris Hughton started both Williams and Antoine Semenyo in attack, the expectation was that Ghana was going to run over one of the minnows of African football, but the Stars had to labour for the sole goal of the match.

The visitors started the match on the front foot, displaying their attacking intent right from the blast of the whistle by Moroccan referee, Guezza Samir.

They kept possession in the early exchanges, creating two quick chances within the first three minutes, and for a moment one would have thought they were the home team.

The only time the Black Stars came close to the opposition go
al area within the first 10 minutes was in the sixth minute, but Jordan Ayew’s feeble shot was calmly collected by goalkeeper Melvin Andrien.

Four minutes later, Inaki Williams found himself in a goal-scoring position after controlling a cross from the left flank, but his effort went over the crossbar.

After matching the Black Stars in their own backyard for 20 minutes, the Bareas of Madagascar grew in confidence as they comfortably dictated the pace of the game with the Stars playing as if nothing was at stake.

But for a brilliant save by Richard Ofori, Madagascar almost broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Dorian Bertrand launched a long drive from 30 yards.

The only brightest spot in the Black Stars setup after 40 minutes was Mohammed Kudus who occasionally showed glimpses of individual brilliance with incisive passes in the midfield.

The Black Stars displayed an uninspiring first half, failing to create any decent chance with the away team going into the break the better side for the first 4
5 minutes.

Coach Chris Hughton started the second half with two substitutions, bringing on Dennis Odoi and Majeed Ashimeru for Alidu Seidu and Baba Iddrisu respectively.

The Stars started the second half an improved side, playing with some sense of urgency which saw them raiding the goal area of the visitors in search of the opener.

They would however not succumb to the incessant pressure as they stood firm to repel all the threats.

A 55th-minute header by Daniel Amartey from a corner kick missed the woodwork by inches.

The Bareas missed a glorious opportunity to break the virginity of the match in the 60th minute against the run of play, but for a timely clearance on the goal line by Nicholas Opoku after Richard Ofori was completely beaten.

As Ghana raced against time to find the back of the net, Coach Hughton introduced Nuamah whose first involvement created the best chance of the half, but Williams fluffed the opportunity.

The impact of Nuamah on the game was glaring as he mesmerised the backline of
the visitors with his pace and drilling skills, forcing them to make mistakes in their vital area.

Goalkeeper Andrien proved to be the stumbling block between the Stars and the opener, saving chances upon chances in the last 10 minutes.

It had to take the last action of the match for the Black Stars to finally break a stubborn side determined to leave the Baba Yara Stadium with at least a point.

Williams headed home a cross from Gideon Mensah to record his first goal for the Black Stars since switching nationality to play for Ghana.

His goal sent the fans into a wild jubilation, having sat on tenterhooks throughout the match.

Source: Ghana News Agency