CK Akonnor’s Ghana tenure got off to a disappointing start on Friday as the Black Stars were defeated 3-0 by Mali at the Emir Hotel Sports Complex in Antalya.
Hamari Traore opened the scoring for the Eagles in the third minute with an excellent finish from close range after driving down the right flank and evading the challenge of Gideon Mensah.
Stade de Reims wonderkid El-Bilal Toure then doubled Mali’s lead early in the second half following a fine cross from Mali’s right, before Amadou Haidara added a third 15 minutes from time.
The Francophone side dominated the possession during the early stages, with a Ghana side containing debutants Tarique Fosu (Brentford) and Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg) struggling to find their rhythm.
It took 25 minutes for Ghana to have their first attempt, when the lively Bernard Mensah picked out Jordan Ayew, but the Crystal Palace striker’s effort flew over the bar.
Steadily, Ghana grew into the contest, and moments later, Jordan sent another chance wide after fine interplay from his brother Andre and Arsenal new boy Thomas Partey.
Akonnor will also rue his side’s misfortune with injuries.
Eugene Ansah was forced off for Kamaldeen Suleyman with injury at the end of the first half, while Mensah was withdrawn for Emmanuel Lomotey soon after the break.
Just after the hour mark, Ghana were also forced to replace Nicholas Opoku with Joseph Aidoo after the centre-back limped off with injury.
With 20 minutes to play, Akonnor turned to Caleb Ekuban to replace Gideon Mensah, but five minutes later, Ghana were 3-0 down after Haidara added the Eagles’ third.
Black Stars fans will be disappointed with their side’s defensive display, particularly considering Ghana had only conceded 13 goals in their last 10 matches against Mali.
Similarly, they had only been defeated once by the Eagles in the previous five matches between the regional rivals.