A CAPACITY crowd watched in bewilderment as the Black Stars struggled to a goalless draw, and star striker Asamoah Gyan was red-carded against the Desert Hawks of Sudan in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier yesterday evening.
In a match that the Ghanaians were highly tipped to win, they found in the Sudanese, a tactically disciplined side and not even an indirect free kick awarded Ghana in the area deep into stoppage time could win the day.
The early period was marked by defensive and midfield brilliance rather than attacking inventions.
But it was the Black Stars who gave a false hope for a great game when just a minute into the game, teenager Jordan Ayew who was handed a starting role by stand-in coach Kwasi Appiah exploded on the right winning a corner kick.
The huge crowd turned the stadium into a cauldron of noise but that did not scare the Hawks who played brilliantly in defence with lanky Balla Gabir keeping a close on Gyan.
Jordan on the right and brother Andre on the left struggled to keep hold of the ball and with their inability to provide the feeds from their areas, the Ghanaian attack remained moribund.
Sudan keeper Mahmoud El Maiz was called to duty on the 23rd minute parrying away a good shot from Kwadwo Asamoah.
Just when the Black Stars were gaining a foothold, the Hawks nearly caught them on the break but Richard Kingson came off his line to head away from advancing Mudathar Eltaib.
With their tails up, the Ghanaians mounted pressure on their opponents on restart, yet the difficulty of getting the balls at goal was evident.
A plethora of free kicks near the box pointed to Ghana breaking the virginity of the game but again Gyan and Kwadwo Asamoah were not up to the task.
Even though Prince Tagoe was sent on for Jordan after 55 minutes while Agyemang Badu and Emmanuel Clottey also came on for Bernard Kumordjie and Andre Ayew respectively, Ghana lacked ideas to break the deadlock.
On the other hand, Sudan grew in confidence and as they stroked the ball, the crowd applauded their tenacity of purpose.
The Stars grew increasingly frustrated and on the 79th minute Gyan was shown the red card by South Africa referee Jerome Damond, for retaliation.
With a man down, the Ghanaians attempted a last-minute gasp and some turbulence in the Sudanese area won the Ghanaians the indirect free kick, which Agyemang Badu wasted much to the chagrin of the fans.
Kingson, Pantsil, Sarpei, John Mensah, Vorsah, Annan, Jordan Ayew/Tagoe, Kumordjie/Agyemang Badu, Gyan, Asamoah, Andre Ayew/Emmanuel Clottey.
• In the other Group I match, Congo who lost their opening match 0-2 against Sudan, won 3-1 over Swaziland in Brazzaville.