Ghana’s Black Stars yesterday secured qualification to the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2021) scheduled for Cameroon after drawing 1-1 with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in their penultimate qualifier at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg.
The Stars qualified to the continental showpiece with a game to spare; sitting on top of Group C with 10 points to lead South Africa on goal difference.
Sudan follows in third with nine points after the fifth qualifying game and will face the South African in a win-or-burst game on the final match day.
Ghana would also face the point-less Sao Tome and Principe to round up the qualifiers in Accra on Sunday.
The Black Stars, after surviving early scares in the first half, took the lead in the 49th minute through an exquisite strike from Ajax star Kudus Mohammed.
Kudusbenefitted from an explosive run from right back, Benson Annang to place the ball at the back of the net.
But Ghana’s celebration was short-lived when the South Africans broke free from midfield for dangerman Percy Tau to beat Razak Abalora in Ghana’s post from an acute angle in the 52nd minute.
The Stars established their rhythm andpushed men forward in search of another goal with Mubarak Wakaso and Afriyie Acquah showing their class and experience in midfield.
However, Bafana Bafana lads stayed resolute and despite the Stars constant threat, they created more decent openings which they failed to score from.
Thapelo James Morena was the worst culprit as he wasted the south African chances including a one-on-one situation with Abalora who also pulled a few magnificent saves to keep the Stars in the game.
Coach C.K Akornor.
With a blend of debutants (local and foreign), young and experienced players, coach Akornor is set to parade a decent team that would not miss the absence of skipper Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew in their quest to clinch three points away from home.
Debutants including Kwame Opoku, Whereas, the likes of Baba Rahman, Afriyie Acquah, Mubarak Wakaso, Mohammed Kudus and Caleb Akuban would be expected to lead the team to the ultimate aim of making their last qualifier, a mere formality.
Ghana also goes into the game shoulders high after beating South Africa 2-0 in November 2019 in the reverse fixture.
However, the Bafana Bafana would be seeking revenge at home in order to avoid a double trashing in the hands of the Black Stars.
One of the players to make a tick for the Bafana Bafana is Percy Tau who has already indicated their readiness to seek revenge and also secure early qualification.
They would also be hoping to use their home ground advantage to do better considering the threat of their opponent.
BY MICHAEL D. ABAYATEYE