The Black Star of Ghana secured a vital 1-0 victory over Madagascar in their opening Group I qualifier for the 2026 World Cup in Kumasi, thanks to a last-gasp goal by striker Inaki Williams’ 96th-minute header.
A timely connection to a Gideon Mensah cross from the left flank saw the Atletico Bilbao striker break his goal drought for Ghana at they needed it most.
Playing in front of highly expectant fans in the Baba Yara Stadium, the Black Stars failed to create any serious chances in the first half.
The second half saw Madagascar grow increasingly confident, creating several dangerous counter-attacks that forced Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori into several crucial saves and reflexes.
As the clock ticked down, it seemed as though the match was destined to end in a frustrating draw for both teams. But in the dying minutes of the game, Ghanaian hearts were lifted when Williams rose highest in the box to head home a tantalising cross from left-back Gideon Mensah.
The goal was as important as the three points, and it came as a repite to Coach Chris Hughton, whose technical competencies have been questioned by some Ghanaians in recent times.
Speaking after the match, coach Hughton hailed his team’s resilience and fighting spirit, crediting their late winner’s hard work and persistence.
He also praised Inaki Williams, who scored on his debut for the national team, for his outstanding performance and contribution to the victory.
For Madagascar, it was a disappointing result, but they can take heart from an impressive performance that demonstrated their potential to compete at the highest level.
The Kumasi Sports Stadium erupted in celebration, with thousands of fans cheering and chanting as the Black Stars secured a critical win in their quest to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.
It was a case of a tougher battle that resulted in a sweeter victory.
Despite the win, Ghana sits at the 3rd position in Group I, following wins by Mali and Comoros on Superior Goals
Ghana will travel to Comoros for their next game in three days.
Group I standings:
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