Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign came to a humiliating end on Tuesday as they were beaten 3-2 by debutants Comoros Islands at Garoua’s Roumde Adjia Stadium to finish bottom of Group C with just a single point.
El Fardou Ben Mohamed scored Comoros’ first ever goal at the continental finals before Ahmed Mogni added a second just past the hour-mark. Goals from Richmond Boakye and Alexander Djiku levelled the game up for Ghana, but Mogni grabbed a winner for the tiny island nation with five minutes remaining.
It is the first time in their history that Ghana have failed to win at least one pool stage match having made 22 past visits to the finals, their cause not helped in Garoua by playing for 65 minutes with 10 men after a harsh early red card for lead striker Dede Ayew.
Morocco topped Group C with seven points, followed by Gabon on five, who also advance to the second round. Comoros have an outside chance of being among the best third-placed finishers, though their minus two goal-difference will likely count against them.
Ghana are four-times winners of the tournament, although not since 1982, and last reached the final in 2015.
Their post mortems of the campaign will not only centre on what happened on the field, but also the atmosphere and environment around the team that appeared toxic from the start of the competition.
Comoros took an early lead when Ben Mohamed drilled the ball low into the bottom corner of the goal from the edge of the box, before Ghana were reduced to 10 men on 25 minutes in what appeared a harsh call.
Kamaldeen Suleymana’s shot was spilled by Comoros goalkeeper Ben Salith Boina, who was caught by the outstretched boot of Ayew as both went for the loose ball.
There is no doubt that the striker was trying to score, and Malian referee Boubou Traore seemed to think nothing of it until prompted to have a look on the pitch-side screen by the Video Assistant Referee. He then changed his decision.
Mogni bagged a second for Comoros, but Ghana gave themselves hope by dragging the game back to 2-2.
Boakye’s looping header from a corner found its way into the net, before Djiku scored at the back post from another set-piece.
But as they pushed forward in search of a winner, Ghana were always going to be vulnerable at the back and Mogni was able to score a famous winner for Comoros from close-range.