Ghana was held to a goalless draw by Madagascar in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Berea stadium in Antananarivo.

The Black Stars needed a win to qualify for the next edition of the tournament in Cote D’Ivoire but the Malagasy put up a brave performance to delay Ghana’s qualification.

Chris Hughton named Andre Ayew in the starting line for the first time since the 2-0 loss to Uruguay in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Kamal Deen Sulemana and Joseph Painstil operated on the wings as Jordan Ayew led the likes in a four-back system that featured Denis Odoi, Joseph Aidoo, Daniel Martey and debutant Patrick Kpozo.

Ghana started the game on the better side and had their first chance from a free kick which was whipped in by Jordan Ayew but was cleverly dealt with by Madagascar.

The hosts came close in the 15th minute after Dorian Bertrand sent in a cross which found no one in the box.

Kamaldeen Sulemana later saw his curler miss the post by inches, Joseph Paintsil fired from a rebound but the shot did not trouble the host – much to the relief of their fans.

Bertrand and Carulos Andriamatsinoro combined on the left to give Ghana a scare but the last touch failed to get its intended power.

Chances were far and few in the closing stages of the first half as the whistle blew for the break.

Madagascar came back from the break looking to break the deadlock but the Ghana back line were equal to the task.

Thomas Partey forced a save from the Madagascar goalkeeper from a set piece before Chris Hughton introduced Ernest Nuamah in place of Kamal Deen Sulemana.

Serbia based winger Osman Bukari replaced Joseph Painstil. The former had a chance to score the winner for the Black Stars but his control was not the best as he fluffed the chance.

Mohammed Kudus was later brought on for Jordan Ayew as Ghana continued to pile pressure for the winner but the Malagasy put the breaks on him as the game winded up.

The hosts then resorted to ball retention and time-wasting as the referee blew his whistle to end the proceedings.

With the 0-0 scoreline, Ghana needs a win in their last game against Central African Republic in September to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote D’Ivoire.

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