Ghana’s Black Stars were held to a barren draw at home by Uganda in their opening group stage qualifier for the 2018 World Cup on Friday.
The goalless draw is a blow for the coach Avram Grant side as they look to secure a fourth successive appearance at the global event, while the Cranes will be delighted with having secured a valuable away point at the start of their group stage campaign.
Uganda enjoyed the better of the match in the early minutes, with the east Africans using their pace and power to impose themselves early on. Right-back Nicholas Wadada was a potent threat on the overlap, while Farouk Miya was a lively presence.
However, after a water-break taken on the half hour mark, Ghana suddenly shifted up a couple of gears and looked much more potent in attack. They immediately created a good chance when Harrison Afful crossed from the right for Jordan Ayew, but the Aston Villa striker hit his volley wide of the target.
The Black Stars had further efforts at goal through veteran striker Asamoah Gyan and Christian Atsu, but neither was a bother for Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango, leaving the game goalless at the halftime break.
Controversy erupted just before the hour mark when Uganda’s Wadada was cautioned for the second time by referee El Fadil Mohamed, yet not shown a red card. The fact that Uganda substituted the player just a few minutes later was an admission of guilt.
From then on it was almost one-way traffic, with Uganda forced into sitting deep in defence to hold Ghana at bay. The hosts almost broke the deadlock on 66 minutes when Daniel Amartey headed on goal from a corner kick, but Onyango make an excellent save to tip the ball over the crossbar.
That was as close to a goal as the match produced, even though Ghana continued to rain in shots in the final quarter of the match. Uganda’s defence stood firm, Onyango’s handling was impeccable and the Black Stars had simply left their shooting boots at home.
Ghana: Razak Braimah, Harrison Afful, Baba Rahman, John Boye, Daniel Amartey, Afriyie Acquah (Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu 57’), Mubarak Wakaso, Christian Atsu (Majeed Waris 82’), Frank Acheampong (Jeffrey Schlupp 78’), Jordan Ayew, Asamoah Gyan
Uganda: Denis Onyango, Joseph Ochaya, Isaac Isinde, Murushid Juuko, Nicholas Wadada (Hassan Wasswa 62’), Farouk Miya, Khalid Aucho, Tony Mawejje (Geoffrey Massa 59’), Dennis Iguma, Moses Oloya (Godfrey Walusimbi 75’), Kizito Luwagg