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Late Senegal winner puts Grant's Ghana in trouble

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The Senegal players celebrate after Moussa Sow's late winner in their African Cup of Nations clash with Ghana in Mongomo. Photo: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZACARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

The Senegal players celebrate after Moussa Sow's late winner in their African Cup of Nations clash with Ghana in Mongomo. Photo: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZACARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The Senegal players celebrate after Moussa Sow's late winner in their African Cup of Nations clash with Ghana in Mongomo. Photo: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZACARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

Avram Grant's Ghana face a battle to reach the knock-out stages of the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea after a wretched start to the competition saw them lose 2-1 to a last-minute Senegal goal in Mongomo yesterday.

Ghana, who shared a pulsating 2-2 draw with eventual winners Germany at last year's World Cup finals, were dealt a large blow in the build-up to the game when captain Asamoah Gyan was ruled out after being diagnosed with mild malaria.

They did not seem to have been hindered by the striker's absence, taking the lead in the 14th minute through André Ayew's penalty after Everton's Christian Atsu was fouled by Senegal goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.

However, Senegal gradually took charge and equalised midway through the second half through Stoke's Mame Biram Diouf, who headed home after his initial effort bounced back to him off the post.

Just when it looked as though Ghana would escape with a point, substitute Moussa Sow grabbed a winner with a low shot in the third minute of added-time.

Algeria came from behind to begin their campaign with a 3-1 victory over South Africa, who missed a penalty and scored an own goal.

Thuso Phala put South Africa ahead shortly after half-time and they could have been 2-0 up minutes later when they won a penalty, only for Tokelo Rantie to blast the 58th-minute spot-kick against the crossbar.

Thulani Hlatshwayo then headed the ball into his own net in the 69th minute to allow Algeria back into the game before goals from Faouzi Ghoulam (72nd) and Islam Slimani (83rd) made sure of the win.

Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o will be notable for their absence when the final group begins today.

First up is Guinea against Ivory Coast, without Drogba, while the second Group D match will pit Mali against Cameroon, who are playing without Eto'o. The Chelsea and Everton strikers, both retired from internationals, are missing from the tournament for the first time in a decade, but Ivory Coast remain favourites to win the cup.

Taking over as the leader of Ivory Coast this time is Manchester City's Yaya Touré, who recently matched Eto'o - reported to be moving to the Italian club Sampdoria - by winning a fourth ­African Player of the Year award.

Irish Independent