By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (September 6th 2021)
Despite losing players to Britain’s Red List controversy, Black Stars’ coach, CK Akonnor, refused to make excuses for the 1-0 loss to Hugo Broos’ young Bafana Bafana team. It was the first loss that Ghana had suffered to South Africa in a competitive match for two decades.
Ghana were far below par, although Akonnor was disappointed tat his substitutes did not have the impact that he expected. Bngokuhle Hlongwane scored the winner after 83 minutes, beating substitute keeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi at his near post – Teboho Mokoena provided the assist. Hlongwane was yellow-carded for taking his jersey off while celebrating.
Ghana only had two shots in the match – only one of which was on target and it was a freekick from around 25 metres out. Mubarak Wakaso’s tame effort was straight at keeper and new Bafana Bafana captain, Ronwen Williams. The only other effort came from Ghana’s skipper André Ayew on the left of the rea, but he pulled his shot well wide of goal.
Ghana provided no further threat in the remaining 80 minutes of the match.
South Africa’s newly appointed coach, Hugo Broos, wanted four points out of six in his first two matches, although he expected to beat Zimbabwe and draw with Angola. After a poor draw across the Limpopo, Broos’ young charges proved that they were ready to take their chances. Ethan Brooks impressed as did goal-scorer, Hlongwane, on their full debuts for the Bafana Bafana.
South Africa deserved to take a lead into half time. The Zambian officials got it wrong. Referee, Derrick Kafuli ruled out Percy tau’s header for offside after 37 minutes. It was not offside. Assistant referee, Kabwe Chansa was level with Tau and should have seen that Al-Ahly’s new acquisition was clearly onside when Nyiko Mobbie’s cross was delivered.
Responding to my question on whether VAR was needed in World Cup Qualifiers as Tau’s disallowed was a match and possibly group-turning decision, Broos said: “I think in such important games there has to be VAR,. One goal can decide, or not decide a game.
“Imagine if it is 0-0 and we don’t win.”
Or imagine it comes down to goal difference or goals scored?
Bad to Worse
Understandably, Broos was not happy with the decision and called for VAR to be used in such matches. He wasn’t wrong. Prior to that South Africa should have taken the lead after Mokoena’s long range freekick was fumbled by Richard Ofori into the path of Mothobi Mvala, but his shot was high, wide and ugly.
It got worse. Shortly after the restart Evidence Makgopa was presented with an open goal from within the six-yard box but somehow contrived to miss when it was far easier to score. With almost an hour played he almost made amends, but his glancing header went wide of the far post. Shortly afterwards Mvala’s spectacular overhead kick went just wide of the post.
Akonnor had made seven changes to the starting eleven against Ethiopia and the difference in quality showed. He knew that he had no choice and accepted the situation. However, this was an important World Cup qualifier. Teams should be allowed to play their strongest team. Ghana wasn’t and it showed. Nevertheless, South Africa, a work in progress, took the points and head the group.