Ghana made a losing start to the CK Akonnor era as Mali ran out 3-0 winners in a friendly on Friday evening.
The match which was played at the Emir Sports complex in Antalya, Turkey was Akonnor’s first game in charge since his appointment as head coach in January.
Mali have always proved a difficult customer for Ghana in all competitions at different levels of football. On two occasions, they beat the Black Stars to clinch Bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2013 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and South Africa respectively.
Mali got off to a bright start as they opened the scoring in the 3rd minute courtesy of Hamari Traore who latched unto a through ball and sent a low drive past Lawrence Ati-Zigi.
There was little for the new gaffer to enjoy in a largely one-sided first 45 minutes which ended with Ghana barely registering a shot on target.
Coach CK Akonnor and his assistant David Duncan named a strong line-up for their first competitive game since their appointment in January.
Lawrence Ati-Zigi (GK), Gideon Mensah, Tarique Fosu-Henry, Nicholas Opoku, Kassim Nuhu, Bernard Mensah, Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew (C), Eugene Ansah.
Neither of Akonnor’s debutants impressed but it was a particularly tough night for Hapoel Shmona forward Eugene Ansah, who was subbed off before half-time.
However, the Malians proved a tough nut to crack for the four-time Afcon winners.
The Malians nearly doubled their lead moments later, however, Ati-Zigi this time around came to the rescue of the Black Stars.
Akonnor’s appointment as Kwesi Appiah’s replacement did not sit well with some fans, whose doubts over his pedigree and his ability to turn the senior national team into one capable of competing at major tournaments could only have increased here.
The Black Stars’ defence was breached for the third time in the game when Amadou Traore put the icing on the cake in the 75th minute.
It wasn’t the result CK Akonnor and his assistant David Duncan were hoping for as they got off their Black Stars tenure with a defeat although it was a friendly.
They would be hoping to get onto winning ways in three days’ time when the Black Stars play Qatar at the same venue.
The friendlies form part of Ghana’s preparation towards the Afcon qualifiers. Ghana will play Sudan in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in November.
The former Hearts and Kotoko manager will be hoping for a much better performance on Monday when they face Qatar in their second and final friendly scheduled for this international break.