The Black Satellites opened their world cup account with an unimpressive 1-1 draw against European minnows Austria in a rainy and very windy Wellington regional stadium.
Sellas Tetteh and his boys were hoping for a better start, especially with giants Argentina awaiting in the next group game, but they could barely contain a very lively Austria team, and would have lost but for a last minute penalty decision.
In torrid conditions in Wellington, with heavy rain and wind and freezing temperatures, it was obvious the Europeans were more suited to the weather than the Satellites. The first half was a very open encounter despite the conditions, and with both sides defending well long range efforts were the order of the day.
Ghana captain Joseph Owusu Bempah took the first hit, with Austria responding through captain Lukas Gugganig. The Europeans took over the tempo, creating several chances but unable to get through.
They did, not long after the beginning of the second half. Emmanuel Ntim couldn’t handle Gschweidl’s strength, and the Austrian attacker raced through unhindered, slotting home at the second attempt after Ati had thwarted his first.
Ghana became a little livelier after, but came no nearer to an equaliser except with half chances and penalty box melees from set pieces. Austria looked very comfortable handling the Satellites, and was equally dangerous on the break but profligate to boot.
Luckily for us, a mistake from Austria on the stroke of full time earned Ghana a penalty, after substitute Yaw Yeboah was hauled down in the box. He picked himself up, stood over the ball, and hit in a well composed finish to draw Ghana level.
This is just the opening game, and the conditions were far from ideal, but at this rate Ghana would struggle to trouble any established team at this tournament. And with Argentina up in the next game, the onus lies on the team to improve their performance or catch an early flight home.
Argentina, somewhat surprisingly, were held to a 2-2 draw by Panama in the other group game. Ghana’s game against the South Americans is slated for Tuesday, June 2nd, again at 0700 GMT.