Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations: Meteors paired against Morocco, Congo, Guinea

The Black Meteors have been drawn in Group A alongside host, Morocco, Congo and Guinea in the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2023.

Ghana will play Congo in their first game on June 25, 2023 before taking on Guinea and Morocco in the other Group matches.

The Meteors sealed their qualification to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after eliminating Algeria 2-1 on aggregate over two legs.

The tournament will serve as qualification to the Olympic Games to be staged in Paris in July 2024 as the best three teams from the competition will represent Africa.

Eight teams will participate in the TotalEnergies U-23 Cup of Nations which will take place in Morocco from June 24-July 8, 2023.

The Ghanaians last took part in the Olympics at Athens 2004, and are determined to break the jinx this time around.

They came so close three years ago, but were eliminated by South Africa on penalties.

The South Africans, thus, joined Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after finishing the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in third place, defeating Ghana 6-5 during the dead-ball kicks, after 2-2 draw in the third-place match played at the Cairo International Stadium.

After a thrilling encounter that saw both sides performing high level football, it was the South Africans who had the last smile when they secured their place in next summer’s Olympics for the third time in their history and second successive after Rio 2016.

Ghana’s Habib Mohamed had bundled into his own net at the quarter hour mark to give South Africa an early lead. Habib tried to stop Luther Singh’s cross, but he wrongly turned it into his net.

The South Africans had the upper hand through the opening half, but wasted many chances to double their lead as both sides went to the break with 1-0 lead for the Southern side.

Ghana returned much stronger, and five minutes after the break they equalised. Evans Mensah received the ball outside the penalty area, and sent a curling shot to beat South Africa’s goalkeeper, Mondli Mpoto.

But the South Africans responded immediately. Two minutes after the hour mark, the substitute KamoheloMhlatsi, who barely spent a minute on the pitch restored their lead, when he received Lyle Foster’s pass to send a scorcher inside the Ghanaian net.

And when it looked all set for South Africa’s win, Ghana scored a late equaliser. Evans Mensah rounded his marker and sent a cross that fell to substitute, Samuel Obeng, who made no mistake to score and restore parity yet again five minutes from time. The game was sent directly to penalty shootout to determine the winner.

The shootout saw both sides missing twice, before South Africa’s goalkeeper, Mpoto saved Michael Agbekpornu kick to send his side to Tokyo.

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