Ghana win opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and boost World Cup preparations

AS Roma striker Felix Afena-Gyan scored the second goal as Ghana opened their Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign with a 3-0 victory against Madagascar. Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Angola, Ghana and Libya all won on Wednesday as home advantage proved decisive on the opening day of the group qualifiers for next year's African Cup of Nations

World Cup-bound Ghana turned out a powerful side but had to wait until the second half to break down a stubborn Madagascar and win 3-0 in their Group E game at Cape Coast.

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Mohammed Kudus broke the deadlock after 54 minutes with 19-year-old AS Roma striker Felix Afena-Gyan grabbing a second two minutes later with an instinctive touch from a set piece.Substitute Osman Bukari broke away and rounded the goalkeeper for the third five minutes from time.

Ghana next play away against Central African Republic in neutral Angola on Sunday before heading to Japan for two testing friendlies next week as they look ahead to the tournament in Qatar in November and December.

Angola came from behind as former Leeds United striker Helder Costa's workrate inspired their 2-1 win against Central African Republic in Luanda.

Simon Nlend handed the visitors a first-half lead when the Angola defence stopped playing after they thought the ball had gone out of play in the build-up to the goal.

But the hosts rebounded to win with goals from M'bala Nzola and Gelson Dala in the last 18 minutes.

Libya beat Botswana 1-0 in Benghazi, in the opening Group J match, with Saleh Al Taher thrashing home the rebound after Sand Masaud had his 54th-minute penalty kick stopped by goalkeeper Goitseone Phoko.

The first two rounds of qualifying matches continue through to June 13.

Ivory Coast hosts the 2023 Cup of Nations finals in June 2023.