AFCON 2023: Rodrigues the hero for Cape Verde with stoppage time winner against Ghana


Rodrigues the hero for Cape Verde with stoppage time winner against Ghana

Bebe and Denis Odoi battle for the ball during the game
Bebe and Denis Odoi battle for the ball during the gameAFP
Cape Verde recorded a memorable last-gasp victory thanks to substitute Garry Rodrigues’ stoppage-time goal as Ghana kicked off their quest for a first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title since 1982 with a chastening 2-1 defeat.

Continental heavyweights Ghana suffered the ignominy of a group stage exit in 2021, meaning they were eager to make up for lost time in the Ivory Coast. In their way as they kicked off their campaign were Cape Verde, who were making just their fourth appearance at the tournament and had previously won just two games in the competition. However, despite their comparatively low stature, the Blue Sharks were the better team before the break as they put the Black Stars under pressure.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between, but the first such opportunity ended up in the back of the net, with Jamiro Monteiro tapping into an empty net after Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori palmed Jovane Cabral’s fierce first-time effort into the goalscorer’s path.

Chris Hughton’s men offered little in response, although they did have the ball in the back of the net shortly before the break courtesy of Majeed Ashimeru’s wonderful strike from distance - Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer had struck the post shortly before.

Ultimately, though, the effort was ruled out for offside as Konigsdorffer was stood in an offside position while blocking Cape Verde shot-stopper Vozinha’s line of sight.

The half-time leaders continued where they left off prior to the break, attacking with intent and causing the Ghana backline plenty of problems. They were unable to double their advantage though, and before too long, Ghana were back on level terms.

Within 15 minutes of the restart, Jordan Ayew swung in a corner that Alexander Djiku bundled into the bottom corner to restore parity. The comeback was almost complete in the following minutes, but the dynamic Joseph Paintsil could only shoot wide at the back post with the goal at his mercy.

Djiku was just as crucial at the other end, first producing a last-gasp tackle to stop Bebé from shooting in the area before clearing the former Manchester United forward’s shot off the line. Ofori then needed to be alert to keep out Cabral and Rodrigues attempts as Cape Verde looked to cause an upset.

There was nothing the goalkeeper could do, though, to keep out Rodrigues’ 92nd-minute tap-in following an embarrassing mix-up at the heart of the defence.

Not only does this result mean they have won just one of their last eight AFCON matches, their title-tilt is already in danger as they next face a tough fixture against seven-time winners Egypt. Cape Verde, meanwhile, will now be confident of reaching the knockout stages, just like they did in 2013 and 2021.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Alexander Djiku (Ghana

Ghana - Cape Verde player ratings
Ghana - Cape Verde player ratingsFlashscore

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