A 2-0 defeat in Egypt has left the chances of Christian Atsu appearing at the next World Cup, hanging by a thread.
Only the five African group winners will head to Russia in summer 2018 and after only two games, Ghana are in serious trouble.
After a shock draw against unfancied Uganda in their opening game, Sunday saw Atsu and Ghana up against their main rivals.
Egypt’s win means they are already five points clear of Ghana with only four matches to play, the table reading Egypt 6 points, Uganda 4, Ghana 1 and Congo 0.
Having impressed for Newcastle when handed the opportunity, Christian Atsu now has to wait until next season before his World Cup will be settled.
Ghana play no-hopers Congo in a double header in August/September 2017 and six points are needed to give them any chance.
If Egypt win their own double header against Uganda then, it would realistically be immaterial what Ghana do, as even if they won both Congo matches they would be five points behind with two games to play.
Christian Atsu still held out hope despite the defeat:
“Regarding our qualification chances, there are still matches and points to grab.
“We played well today but unfortunately we couldn’t win.
“All the (Egyptian) players played as a team and I congratulate them and each of them.”
Christian Atsu of course is one of four Newcastle players who look certain to be missing in the new year when the African Cup of Nations takes place in January/February 2017.