South Africa would have been deemed by most as favourites to finish bottom, in a group that many consider to be the group of death. However, after their encouraging exploits in their previous two fixtures, they will be disappointed to be thrust into a must win situation in the last match day of the group.
In their first game against Algeria, they dominated the match and went ahead through a Thuso Phala goal in the 51st minute. Tokelo Rantie then missed the chance to double their lead when he hit the bar from the spot. Algeria then came from behind to score three and coach Shakes Mashaba lamented his side’s finishing.
Their match against Senegal mirrored the flow of the game against Algeria. Mashaba’s side’s solitary goal in a 1-1 draw was a poor reflection of dominance due to the amount of clear-cut chances created by the team. These two matches make you think that although the Bafana Bafana have decent technical quality they lack the know-how and experience to get to the next level and grind out games when really needed.
Coach Mashaba claims that his side will have these problems rectified by tonight.
“We used to concede very early in the game but we worked on that, it’s changed now towards the dying minutes of the game, that’s where our concentration and focus lapses,” he said.
“And of course, we’re looking at working on that. But the biggest thing is, during those periods, we’re creating a lot of chances.
“You’ll find that could be one of the things – if you don’t take your chances, you’re going to be punished.
“If you look at the goals that the opposition scores, [they are] soft goals, yeah. And we work to score hard but they always get soft goals. But I think we’ll rectify that, wait till tomorrow evening.”
South Africa may find hope in the fact that they are playing a side that really hasn’t played well at all and were saved by a last minute goal from the malaria-stricken Asamoah Gyan to earn them three points, although South Africa themselves are missing key man Oupa Manyisa due to injury.
Ghana were average at best throughout qualification and it could be said that experience could get them through again, no matter how well they play. Gyan should be feeling better and the space South Africa leave when going forward in search of goals, with only the slightly immobile Dean Furman hanging back means that they should have more opportunities to punish the Bafana on the counter.
Celtic midfielder Mubarak Wakaso comes in for Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and should add drive plus a wider passing range in the middle.
Ghana starting line-up: Braimah, Afful, Baba Rahman, Amartey, Mensah, Acquah, Wakaso, Andre Ayew, Atsu, Gyan, Jordan Ayew
South Africa starting line-up: Khuzwayo, Anele, Matlaba, Coetzee, Mathoho, Furman, Jali, Masango, Phala, Rantie, Ndulula