The Black Stars needed a 90+6th-minute header from Athletic Club’s striker Inaki Williams to get a good start to the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana.
The win gives Chris Hughton’s side the much-needed victory, and for Williams, it is his first goal in a Black Stars shirt since switching nationalities from Spain to Ghana in 2022.
Prior to the game, questions were raised about Chris Hughton, with immense pressure mounted on the Ghana Football Association to sack him after just ten games in charge.
Chris Hughton made some bold calls in his starting eleven by once again dropping Andre Ayew to the bench and giving a starting place to Richard Ofori over Lawrence Ati Zigi. Joseph Wollacott had returned from injury not long ago.
Richard Ofori marked his return to the national team with the captain’s armband in the absence of Andre Ayew and kept a clean sheet at the end of 90 minutes.
There was a lot of pressure on the boys to deliver, and that translated into the game, as the Black Stars of Ghana were passengers for a large chunk of the game.
You can say that perhaps the team was lucky to not concede at the end of the first 45 minutes, despite having chances few and far between.
So poor was the first half that some fans in the VIP section booed the men’s senior national team off the pitch when they were heading to the tunnel at the break.
The team lifted itself up in the second half, coming out with guns blazing, as the introduction of Majeed Ashimeru brought some spark and life to the team.
Ghana kept knocking on the doors of the Barea of Madagascar, but they held their own for a large part of the game at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, where the crowd did not go silent on the team.
Inaki Williams came close, but his effort was kept out by the Madagascar goalkeeper. Mohammed Kudus went even closer, but his wonderful strike was superbly kept out by Melvin Adrien, who was just fantastic on the day.
There were more dangerous attacking plays from the Black Stars, with Ernest Nuamah, Kudus, and Ashimeru as the catalysts of destruction, but the Malagasies held on strongly.
Gideon Mensah connected with Bukari, who then gave the left-back the ball, and with a one-touch cross, the ball found the head of Inaki Williams, who headed home his first Black Stars goal to clinch maximum points for Ghana.
The team will now depart the shores of Ghana to face Comoros, a country that handed the Black Stars a painful 3-2 defeat at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which eliminated Ghana from the tournament.
More pictures here:
All the photos were taken by Bernard Osei of the Citi Sports desk