Felix Afena-Gyan helped Ghana overcome fierce rivals Nigeria in Africa’s World Cup play-offs in March

Felix Afena-Gyan scored his first international goal as Ghana secured a comfortable 3-0 home win over Madagascar in their opening qualifier for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 19-year-old Roma forward set up the opener for Mohamed Kudus early in the second half and Afena-Gyan – winning just his third cap – swiftly doubled the Black Stars’ lead.

Osman Bukari netted late on to secure three points for Ghana in the Group E match in Cape Coast.

The four-time continental champions had suffered an embarrassing group-stage exit at the Nations Cup in Cameroon in January.

However, the West Africans then secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup under coach Otto Addo, who has been confirmed in the role until after the tournament in Qatar.

Elsewhere in Group E, Angola came from behind to beat Central African Republic while new Libya boss Corentin Martins made a winning start against Botswana in Group J.

Ghana welcomed back captain Andre Ayew from suspension, while teenage forwards Afena-Gyan and Abdul Fatawu Issahaku were both handed starts.

The West Africans spurned a number of chances in the first half but broke the deadlock eight minutes after the restart when Afena-Gyan cut the ball back from the byline on the right for an unmarked Kudus to convert.

Afena Gyan then got on the score sheet three minutes later, prodding home from close range after a short corner.

London-born Bristol City forward Antoine Semenyo came on as late substitute to make his Ghana debut before Nantes man Bukari wrapped up the scoring in the 86th minute after rounding the goalkeeper.

Victories for Angola and Libya

Earlier on Wednesday, Angola saw off Central African Republic in Luanda thanks to two goals in five second-half minutes.

Former Cameroon forward Samuel Nlend converted a low cross to give CAR the lead just after the half-hour mark.

Angola were given a chance to level after the break when visiting keeper Aladun Kolimba brought down Ary Papel, but midfielder Fredy skewed his penalty wide of the left-hand upright.

Spezia forward M’Bala Nzola equalised for the hosts with 18 minutes remaining, nodding in a corner at the back post, and four minutes later Dala Gelson slotted into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box to score what proved to be Angola’s winner.

On Sunday, Ghana face an away tie against Central African Republic and Madagascar host Angola.

Meanwhile, Libya beat Botswana 1-0 in their Group J opener in Benghazi, with Saleh Al Taher converting the rebound from a narrow angle after Sanad Al Warfali saw his 53rd-minute penalty saved by Zebras keeper Goitseone Phoko.

That result marked a first competitive win for Martins, who replaced Javier Clemente as Mediterranean Knights coach in April.

Tunisia, Nations Cup winners in 2004, host Equatorial Guinea in Group J on Thursday (19:00 GMT).

The first two rounds of group-stage qualifiers for the 2023 finals in Ivory Coast have been spread out over two weeks in June to allow World Cup-bound sides to arrange two friendly matches.

Upcoming Group E and J fixtures

Sunday, 5 June

  • Botswana v Tunisia (Francistown, 13:00) – Group J
  • Central African Republic v Ghana (Luanda, 13:00) – Group E
  • Madagascar v Angola (Antananarivo, 16:00) – Group E

Monday, 6 June

  • Equatorial Guinea v Libya (Malabo, 19:00) – Group J

All kick-off times in GMT.

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