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New boys, Gyan help Black Stars to perfect start

Kwesi Appiah's first game back in charge of Ghana ended in a perfect 5-0 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying victory against Ethiopia on Sunday.

The scoreline told a story of dominance, but there was a lot more to it. The identity of the goalscorers told it's own story as well. It told a story of how the old and the new could provide the springboard for Appiah.

The new boss put his seal on this squad by first leaving out established names like Agyemang Badu and Mubarak Wakasso, and his match line-up followed that theme. There was no place in the side for Jordan Ayew, Frank Acheampong, Afriyie Acquah or Majeed Warris.

Instead, Appiah threw in the likes of Ralphael Dwamena in attack alongside Asamoah Gyan, Ebenezer Ofori with Thomas Partey in central midfield, Lumor Agbenyenu and former national Under-17 captain Thomas Agyepong on the left side of midfield.

The impact was devastating. Within 10 minutes, Ghana were in front. Gyan nodded it in, but it was down to the incredible pace and ability to cross at pace from Agyepong, who burnt his Ethiopian marker and delivered a sweet cross. Dwamena missed it, Gyan didn't.

It didn't take long for the second to arrive, and once again it was worked out for the left. Dwamena headed a looping ball from that side into the path of John Boye, who swivelled and hit the top left corner with the expertise of a striker.

Ghana were dominating and the crowd - the biggest for a Ghana home game since the heady days of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers - was loving it. Before halftime they got what they were asking for - another goal. Ebenezer Ofori, who was immense in midfield, hit a long range beauty past Abel Mamo.

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The second half was played at a slower pace, but still enough for the Black Stars to score twice from the boot of a man who many expect to be around for a long time. There was a sense that Dwamena should have been in Ghana's last Nations Cup squad. He seemed to provide compelling evidence of that.

His ball control was good, his runs a bother for the defenders, and often he was in the right place at the right time. He reacted well to tap in from four yards after Mamo failed to hold unto a Gyan shot. Moments later he scored a similar goal, profiting this time from a Dede Ayew shot that Mamo failed to hold onto.

He loved it, the crowed did, Appiah smiled quietly to himself and the noise level in the stadium went a notch up.

The opposition may have offered little resistance, but Appiah will be please with the application. The result takes the Black Stars to the top of Group F on goal-difference ahead of Sierra Leone.

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