South Africa will need to topple Ghana in order to top Group G, and there’s no better opportunity to beat the favourites than on home soil at the FNB Stadium.
The visitors will be ready to go after missing out on qualification to football’s showpiece event, eventually beaten for their ticket to Russia’s 2018 edition by a Mohamed Salah inspired Egypt.
When Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blows the whistle to kick-off proceedings at 18:00 tonight, both nations’ hopes will be placed on their teams to deliver the goods. The Black Stars enter Mzansi’s borders with three points to their name after securing a 1-0 win over Ethiopia thanks to a Mubarak Wakaso goal at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana came away from the National Sports Stadium in Harare with a clean sheet during the goalless draw with Zimbabwe in coach Hugo Broos’ first match on the South African bench.
2022 World Cup Qualifier
Monday 6 September
South Africa 16/10
South Africa were underwhelming from an attacking viewpoint against Zimbabwe as Percy Tau struggled to make a meaningful impact on the game. Luther Singh was also largely ineffective in creating goalscoring opportunities for striker Evidence Makgopa, while Victor Letsoalo made a cameo appearance as a substitute.
If South Africa are to have any chance of claiming a positive result, Tau will need to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and begin dictating Bafana’s intent to penetrate Ghana’s defence, getting inside their box and making our strikers pull the trigger at the end of our best attacking manoeuvres.
South Africa can’t afford to be wasteful when presented with opportunities against a team that they’ve failed to beat in the last five meetings, losing twice and sharing the spoils three times.
Coach Hugo Broos seemed content with the point earned in Harare and will surely look to build on that result with maximum points at home. However, Ghana is a different team to Zimbabwe who’ll enjoy much better playing conditions at The Calabash and with the quality of the Ayew brothers and Jeffrey Schlupp leading their attack, a small lapse in concentration could find Bafana on the back foot at an early stage in the contest.
Defensively, South Africa need to be resolute. In fact, if newly-appointed captain Ronwen Williams can keep six clean sheets in qualifying, South Africa will find themselves in good stead to seal progression to the World Cup for the first time since hosting the 2010 edition. After watching last Friday’s clash, it leaves me wondering, is this our approach?
Ghana is without Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey but are still a force to be reckoned with. The Crystal Palace duo of Jordan Ayew and Schlupp would look to pull the strings against a defence that is likely to be without Thibang Phete, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week, along with Sundowns’ attacking midfielder Thabiso Kutumela.
However, due to procedures and protocols that would’ve meant any player visiting South Africa and returning to Britain must quarantine for a period that would see them missing crucial games for their English Premier League and Championship clubs, these quality footballers will not line up against Bafana Bafana.
Skilled forward Andre Ayew, with 94 international caps to his name, will spearhead the Black Stars’ attack, while Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Mohammed Kudus, who scored against South Africa in the two most recent meetings, will be yet another absentee along with Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey.
Defenders Andrew Yiadom and Baba Abdul Rahman have also not travelled with the squad meaning five of the previous game’s starting XI will be absent in Johannesburg. Coach Charles Akonnor will be weary of starting with Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori, whose not begun the season in the best of form, making silly errors leading to goals for the DStv Premiership outfit.
Prediction: South Africa Win (16/10)
Prediction? There will be football played, with much more fluidity from the South Africans who need to treat this match as a one-off knockout encounter. Ghana is there for the taking, considering the team selection and lack of key players available. My money is firmly on Evidence Makgopa to score and Bafana to win. If you’re as confident as I am, select South Africa & Yes in the Matchbet & Both Teams to Score market at 62/10.