Two goals from two penalties, and seemingly destined for the round of 16, Ghana’s Black Stars imploded in the dying embers of their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (2023 AFCON) clash against Mozambique, surrendering a 2-0 lead for a gut-wrenching 2-2 draw at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Monday night.

This late collapse extends Ghana’s winless streak at the tournament to a record seven games, leaving a nation in mourning and raising questions about the future of the once-dominant side.

The result means the four-time AFCON winners ended the group stage with two points which has historically not been enough for teams to qualify as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Jordan Ayew, cool as ice from the penalty spot, had twice put Ghana ahead, first in the 15th minute after Joseph Paintsil drew a foul, then again in the 66th minute via a VAR-confirmed handball by Reinildo Mandava.

But Mozambique, relentless in their pursuit of an equalizer, capitalized on Ghana’s defensive frailties. Catamo converted a penalty of his own in the 90th minute after Andre Ayew’s unfortunate handball, and in the fourth minute of added time, Mandava, at fault for the second penalty, rose highest to head home a corner past Ofori, sending the Mambas into jubilation and the Black Stars into despair.

Ghana’s dominance early on – registering the first shot within a minute – seemed a distant memory as Mozambique piled on the pressure in the second half. 

Lau King missed two golden opportunities, and a period of ten-minute Mozambican possession saw both Andre Ayew and Iddrisu booked for yellow cards in the second half. 

Hughton’s defensive substitutions, aiming to solidify the lead, tragically backfired, leaving Ghana outnumbered and vulnerable in the dying moments.

Geny Catamo sent Ofori the wrong way after the ball struck Andre Ayew’s arm in the 90th minute.

In the fourth minute of six minutes of added-on time with the ball bouncing out of play off a Mozambique player, goalkeeper Richard Ofori touched it.

From that corner, Reinildo headed it into the corner past Ofori to hand Ghana a second successive group stage exit at the AFCON.

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