Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations hopes are hanging by a thread after losing a lead to draw with Gabon, and the players’ frustration was evident.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey thought he had helped Ghana breathe new life into their Africa Cup of Nations campaign, but Gabon hit back with a last-minute equalizer that dashed hopes of their countries hanging by a thread.
And Ghana will be without Benjamin Tetteh for their final game after the substitute was shown a red card for throwing a punch after the full-time whistle as things heated up in Cameroon.
Partey provided the assist for Andre Ayew’s opener, which arrived when the former West Ham United striker picked up a clean pass from the Arsenal man and created space for himself before firing a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Striker’s brother Jordan nearly doubled the lead in the second half, while Joseph Paintsil also had a chance to extend Ghana’s lead, but they had to pay for their missed chances when Jim Allevinah equalized with just two minutes left to play.
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The match was supposed to be a battle between the Gunners man and his Arsenal colleague Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the Gabon striker was left out after his country’s medical team discovered ‘heart damage’ .
The result leaves Ghana’s qualification hopes on hold, after Milovan Rajevac’s side lost 1-0 to Morocco in their first group match.
Morocco are now through, having beaten Comoros in the day’s other Group C game, and Ghana will likely have to beat the tournament debutants to give themselves a chance to progress.
However, Gabon are almost through, despite being without Aubameyang and fellow senior player Mario Lemina for their first two group games.
The Ghana and Gabon players found themselves on the pitch after the final whistle in Yaoundé, with the favorites clearly frustrated after failing to hold on to their lead.
And replays appeared to show Tetteh, who had only entered the pitch as a substitute after the equaliser, throwing a punch in the direction of Gabon striker Aaron Boupendza.
Referee Lahlou Benbraham was unable to immediately locate the Ghanaian striker as the players dispersed but confirmed he was dismissed for his part in the brawl.
The Gabon Football Association have confirmed they will not take any risks on Aubameyang, Lemina and Axel Meye, all of whom have only recently returned to training, have been sidelined as a precaution after medical checks.
A decision on their involvement in Morocco’s game will have to be made before the January 18 encounter, with Ghana and Comoros playing at the same time.
Four of the six third-placed teams will advance to the last 16 of the competition, so there is still a chance for Ghana and Gabon to progress.