South Africa vs Ghana | Tuesday 27 January | Mongomo | 20:00
It’s do or die for Shakes Mashaba’s dispirited Bafana team as they go into their final group match at the Africa Cup of Nations knowing they must beat the Black Stars to have any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. One thing is for sure, ‘it’s Ghana be difficult’ as Avram Grant’s men will be looking for the victory that will secure their place in the next round.
To Win (90mins)
South Africa 26/10
It’s hard to believe that Bafana Bafana entered the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations undefeated in the qualifying campaign. We’re talking about a side who were oozing confidence under their new manager, having been on a run of six wins and four draws. They’ve had a miserable tournament so far and come into this match knowing nothing but a win will do, or they will be going home early. Bafana sit bottom of Group C with just a single point from their opening two matches. They suffered a 3-1 defeat in their opening game against Algeria and then managed a point against Senegal, which kept their faint chances of making it into the knockout stages alive. There’s no use crying over spilt milk and Bafana will need to focus entirely on beating the Black Stars and let their destiny take care of itself. South Africa have a good record against the Black Stars with three wins from five matches, a draw and a defeat. Mashaba has been handed a big boost following the news that Rivaldo Coetzee could feature against Ghana after overcoming a knee injury sustained in Bafana's Group C opener against the Desert Foxes. South Africa’s attack at the 2015 AFCON has at times looked sensational, with the speed of their passing and movement often overwhelming defences. However, they have lacked a ruthlessness upfront that would otherwise surely have secured positive results against Algeria and Senegal. Bafana are in desperate need of finesse in front of goal and Shakes may opt to bring in the current squad’s most capped player, Bernard Parker.
Ghana produced a late 1-0 victory over Algeria in Mongomo last Friday to go second in the group, a result which eased the pressure after an opening 2-1 loss to Senegal. In plotting South Africa's downfall, Grant will have to find a way of getting his charges to contain them. They are fast-paced and quite skilful, capable of creating all kinds of trouble for one's defence. So far, the Stars defence has shown calm and composure but they can be pushed to the wall by the exuberant South Africans, whose weaknesses include inexperience and choosing to walk the ball into the opponents' net instead of trying shots from afar. Knowing that a draw or defeat will end their campaign the Black Stars will be expected to press the South Africans from the start of the game. With Ghana successfully switching to a 4-4-2 formation for their win over Algeria, they are likely to stick with the same lineup for the match against South Africa. Asamoah Gyan made a triumphant return to the team after recovering from a bout of malaria, scoring the last-gasp winner against Algeria. The lethal striker will be Grant’s focal point in attack and will look to score the goals that send Ghana through and Bafana packing.
VERDICT: South Africa 26/10
This encounter should prove to be a tight affair as victory is essential for both teams. While results haven’t gone South Africa’s way, they have been the better side against both Algeria and Senegal, but were wasteful in front of goal. Bafana have won the last two meetings against Ghana and are tipped to oust their opponents at a tasty 26/10.