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2023 U-23 Afcon: Black Meteors hold off late Congo rally to win 5-goal thriller

Emmanuel Yeboah came off the bench and stole the show, providing an assist and two goals to lead Ghana to a spirited 3-2 victory over Congo at the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Sunday.

The Black Meteors prevailed in a gripping second Group A opening encounter at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat, but not without experiencing some nerve-wracking moments as the Red Devils attempted a remarkable comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the closing minutes.

Ghana returned to the field with an insatiable appetite for goals after a scoreless first half in which both teams shown resiliency.

Before the resumption, Ghana coach Ibrahim Tanko instilled new life into his side by bringing on Emmanuel Yeboah and Hafiz Ibrahim, who replaced captain Daniel Afriyie Barnieh and Sylvester Simba, respectively, and their impact was immediate.

Five minutes into the second half, Ernest Nuamah gave Ghana the lead with a straightforward tap-in from substitute Yeboah’s well-executed right-wing cross.

Ghana continued to surge forward in search of more goals.

Congo’s Borel Tomandzoto, on the other hand, caused some problems for the Ghanaian defense by dribbling past a defender, but his shot failed to find the target.

Nonetheless, in the 75th minute, Emmanuel Yeboah outpaced a defender on the left wing and blasted a well-placed low shot that caught the Congo goalkeeper Dhody Bissila off guard.

The Black Meteors pressed hard, and their efforts were rewarded when Congo’s Djigo Saikou committed a foul on left-back Edmund Arko-Mensah inside the box, prompting Egyptian referee Mohamed Ahmed Nagy to award a penalty after 83 minutes.

The penalty did not come without drama as Arko-Mensah elected himself to take it. Goalkeeper Bissila denied him twice after the referee ordered a retake for moving before the penalty was struck.

Yeboah took over the duty and confidently converted the spot-kick at the third attempt, giving Ghana a 3-0 lead.

Congo salvaged a goal in the third minute of additional time when substitute Reich Kokolo brilliantly headed home a well-delivered free-kick from the left.

Congo scored a second goal a minute later, with Yann Kouori-Ngatse capitalizing on Ghana’s defensive mistakes.

Following his assist and two goals, Emmanuel Yeboah received the man-of-the-match award.

Ghana will return to action on Tuesday, June 27 against hosts Morocco, while Congo Brazzaville will also face Guinea in the day’s second match. Morocco defeated Guinea 2-1 in Saturday’s opening match.


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