Bafana Bafana went down 2-0 to the Black Stars of Ghana in the first match of the CAF Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at a packed Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana on Thursday night.
The matchwinning goals were scored on either side of the half by Thomas Partey and second-half substitute Mohammed Kudus.
This was the 12th meeting between the two nations and Bafana Bafana started on the back foot, as they took some time to get out of the blocks.
Ghana captain Jordan Ayew threatened the visitors’ goal as early as the 10th minute but goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved the danger.
Striker Bradley Grobler should have put South Africa in the lead a few minutes later following a goalmouth scramble but he ballooned his shot.
The visitors were forced into an early substitution in the 26th minute when midfielder Bongani Zungu limped off from after twisting his knee – it is still unclear if he will be ready for the clash on Sunday against Sudan at Orlando Stadium. Thapelo Morena replaced Zungu.
After knocking several times on the Bafana Bafana door, Ghana took the lead in the 35th minute with a low long-range shot by Partey that gave Williams no chance.
South Africa were again slow off the mark in the second half as they absorbed pressure from the hosts who were looking to increase their lead.
SA coach Molefi Ntseki then introduced Lebogang Mothiba and Kermit Erasmus in search of an equaliser. They replaced Grobler and Thembinkosi Lorch respectively.
Instead, it was Ghana who found the second goal after defender Thamsanqa Mkhize was dispossessed by Mohammed who unleashed a powerful shot past Williams into the top corner.
However much they tried, Bafana Bafana never came close to scoring with Ghana’s defence standing firm and fighting for every ball.
In the end, South Africa lost 2-0 in Ntseki’s first competitive match and have started the qualifier campaign on the back foot.
The victory sees Ghana occupy second place in Group C, while Sudan sits at the top after beating Sao Tome e Principe 4-0 on Wednesday,
After the match, Bafana Bafana headed off to Accra for a short sleep-over and will travel back home on Friday morning.
They are expected to land in Johannesburg on Friday evening and then start preparations for their second match of the qualifiers.
They take on Sudan on Sunday at Orlando Stadium.
Ghana will be away to Sao Tome on Monday.
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo