Congo 2-3 Ghana: Late Jordan Ayew strike gives the Black Stars victory

Ghana stepped up preparations for their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda with a 3-2 win over Congo in an exhibition encounter on Tuesday.

Sagesse Babele scored twice, one into his own net, while goals from Richmond Boakye-Yiadom and Jordan Ayew ensured a Hardy Binguila effort counted little at the new Kintele Stadium.

The match was to mark the opening of the newly-built 60, 000 capacity edifice in Brazzaville, host of the 2015 All-Africa Games which runs from September 4 to 19.

While the Black Stars are preparing for Rwanda on September 5, the Red Devils are similarly shaping up for an Afcon 2017 qualifier at Guinea Bissau the same day.

The home side named a relatively stronger side including usual suspects Christoffer Mafoumbi, Ferebory Dore, Delvin Ndinga, Sagesse Babele, Marvin Baudry, Arnold Bouka Moutou, Cesaire Gandze and Prince Oniangue.

The Black Stars, without several big names due to injury withdrawals and late arrivals, presented a makeshift squad with goalkeeper Razak Brimah, Abdul Rahman Baba, Harrison Afful and Christian Atsu the only notorious first team members in the starting XI.

Congo started the better side with an early spell of possession in the opening minutes, but failed to test Brimah with any clear effort.

Sagesse Babele, however, got his name onto the score sheet in the 14th minute, having inadvertently added direction to an Afful ball to beat his own goalkeeper Mafoumbi.

Boakye-Yiadom then scored the second four minutes later, after being found by a sweet Daniel Nii Adjei cross.

At the other end, Oniangue tested Brimah with a powerful shot from just outside the 18-yard box, but saw his effort fly wide, after which Dore saw a powerful header miss target by inches.

Back from recess, Congo started with a lot of attacking intent, and rightly got rewarded with a goal in the 54th minutes when Babele connected to a corner kick to beat Fatau Dauda who had come on for Brimah.

The goal indeed lifted the Devils’ spirit  as they surged on for the equaliser, but found a resolute Ghana central defensive pairing of Lawrence Lartey and Baba Mensah difficult to beat, the latter having come on for Edwin Gyimah.

After a series of end-to-end action, Hardy Binguila finally scored what appeared to be the equaliser a minute into injury time to send the home fans into a state of frenzy.

However, it was not to be as substitute Asamoah Gyan reacted quickly, forcing Mafoumbi into a wonderful save two minutes later, before fellow substitute Jordan Ayew put the game beyond reach for the Congolese with a 94th minute goal to give Ghana the victory.