South Africa’s Bafana Bafana grabbed a crucial 1-0 victory over a listless Ghanaian side at FNB Stadium on Monday to boost their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification hopes.
Ghana entered the game with the advantage after an opening win to the campaign but have now surrendered top spot following the defeat.
The Black Stars went into the game with a depleted side. Having already been denied the services of key players Mohammed Kudus and Thomas Partey, Coach Charles Akonnor also had to do the game without several high profile players.
The English quintet of Daniel Amartey (Leicester City), Jeffrey Schlupp (Leicester City), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), Andrew Yiadom (Reading FC) and Baba Abdul Rahman (Reading FC) will not be part of the game as they cannot travel to South Africa due to the Premier League prohibiting its players from traveling to countries on the UK’s Covid-19 red list.
More so, Rennes attacker Kamal Deen Suleymana and Daniel Kyereh of German side St. Pauli are also out of the game after been recalled by their clubs.
Bafana Coach Hugo Broos made two changes to his Bafana side for the encounter with Ethan Brooks and Bongokuhle Hlongwane coming in for Gift Links and Luther Singh.
The Black Stars had the first opportunity of the match in the 10th minute when Joel Fameyeh threaded a ball through for Andre Ayew in the left-hand side of the box but he dragged his effort wide of the right hand post on his favoured left foot.
It was a physical match and the referee was doing his best to allow the game to flow.
On the half-hour mark, Teboho Mokoena curled a free-kick towards the bottom left corner, which Pirates keeper Richard Ofori pushed away into the path of Mothobi Mvala following up but the Bafana hardman failed to get under his effort as it skied over from the angle.
Bafana were convinced they had taken the lead when Nyiko Mobbie whipped in a peach of a delivery from the left which Percy Tau headed clinically down and into the bottom left corner of the net, but the Bafana talisman’s strike was ruled out even though he appeared to be onside.
Broos would have been wondering how Bafana were not ahead straight after half-time. The influential Mokoena surged down the right and delivered the ball into the box. It was a routine catch for Ofori but he let the ball slip through his legs and straight into the path of Evidence Makgopa, who somehow put it wide on the slide as it appeared to take the Baroka FC striker by surprise.
In the 68th minute, Tau threaded the ball down the left-hand side of the box for Hlongwane, who got to the byline and cut the ball back for Mvala, who controlled and tried an acrobatic overhead kick which went narrowly wide of the right-hand upright as Ghana breathed another sigh of relief.
Pirates fans would have been concerned when Ofori fell injured and was replaced by Lawrence Ati-Zigi with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Bafana got the goal they so richly deserved in the 84th minute. The ball was whipped in and Gideon Mensah’s headed clearance went only as far as Teboho Mokoena on the right-hand side and the Bafana playmaker put a brilliant ball back into the box for Hlongwane to complete the tap-in as the Bafana bench and players mobbed one another in relief more than anything.
The result sees South Africa leapfrog Ghana to the top spot with 4 points accumulated.
Ghana drop to second on 3 points.
Zimbabwe (on 1 point) and Ethiopia who lost their opening game will lock horns in the other group fixture.
South Africa: Williams, Morena, De Reuck, Xulu, Mobbie, Mvala, Mokoena, Tau, Brooks, Hlongwane, Makgopa.
Subs: Mothwa, Bvuma, Blom, Dube, Ngcobo, Links, Maart, Mabiliso, Mbule, Singh, Letsoalo.
Ghana: Ofori, Fatawu Mohammed, G. Mensah, Djiku, J. Mensah, Wakaso, Ashimeru, Lomotey, Fameyeh, A.Ayew, Yeboah