Football

South Africa, Ghana neck to neck in World Cup chase

Ghana and South Africa are only separated by a point in Group G of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers after both won their match day three fixtures on Saturday.

South Africa sits top of the group with seven points after beating Ethiopia 3-1 in Bahir Dar while Ghana won via the same margin at home against Zimbabwe.

Mohamed Kudus had given the hosts a fifth minute lead before Knowledge Musona drew Zimbabwe level from the penalty spot in the second half. However, Thomas Partey and skipper Andre Ayew scored later to firm up the victory for the hosts.

Kudus broke the deadlock with a neat low finish inside the box after some quick change of passes. Kudus had another chance in the 19th minute with a shot from distance which flew straight to the keeper’s arms.

Kamal Deen Sulemana had the other close chance for Ghana with a shot that was deflected behind for a corner as the home side went to the break tails up by a goal.

Zimbabwe had a better start in the second half and were level four minutes after the restart when skipper Musona scored from the penalty spot.

They almost took the lead in the 53rd minute but Jordan Zemura saw his cracking shot denied by the crossbar.

After surviving the onslaught, Ghana took their chances and went 2-1 up after 66 minutes when some individual effort from Partey saw him find space inside the box before shooting past the keeper.

PHOTO/GFA Communications

They cemented the lead three minutes from time when Ayew headed home from the edge of the six yard box off John Mensah’s cross.

Earlier on in Bahir Dar, South Africa scored two second half goals to clinch victory away from home.

Ethiopia had come from a goal down with Getaneh Kebede cancelling out Teboho Mokoena’s opener, but Mothobi Mvala and Evidence Makgopa scored late in the second half to hand Bafana Bafana the healthy win.

With the result, South Africa have moved to seven points, four ahead of Ghana who play later on Saturday against Zimbabwe. Ethiopia tally stopped at 3 points.

South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams kept his side in the game with good saves in the first half. In the 25th minute he leapt high to smoother Surafel Dagnachew’s shot behind for a corner.

He denied Abubeker Nasir Ahmed twice in succession one on one in the 36th and 39th minutes, the striker having been put through with peach-perfect passes.

At the stroke of halftime, the South Africans got into the lead somehow thanks to a Fasil Gebremichael howler. The keeper appeared to have gathered Mokoena’s freekick cleanly in his arms but somehow let the ball slip into the net.

In the second half Ethiopia pushed to get themselves back in contention and they got back into the game in the 67th minute when Kebedeh struck a superb freekick into the net after Dagnachew was brought down by Kutumela Thabiso.

But the joy of an equalizer lasted only five minutes as South Africa got back into the lead, Mvala volleying the ball home from close range after a long throw was flicked to his direction.

South Africa could have added a third in the 82nd minute but Makgopa’s header came off the bar.

Makgopa however got his goal in the second minute of added time with a lob over the keeper after being put through by Hlongwane Bongokuhle.

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