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Ghana grind out home victory to win WCQ Group G at South Africa’s expense

A one-goal victory was all Ghana needed at home to overtake South Africa for top spot in Group G of FIFA World Cup qualifying, and it was mission accomplished for the Black Stars on Sunday at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium. The hosts defeated Bafana Bafana 1-0 and survived a late charge from the visitors to claim first place in the group and advance to the final round courtesy of André Ayew’s penalty kick conversion in the first half.

Ghana came out charging and played with urgency, going on to dominate the first half by looking to push numbers forward and find the necessary goal for them to advance. On his 100th appearance for his country, André Ayew was particularly active in trying to push the Black Stars over the line and he was instrumental in creating chances. In the 16th minute, Ayew provided a pass to send early substitute Daniel-Kofi Kyereh through on goal but the St. Pauli player sent his finish high and wide of the South African goal.

Shortly after the half hour mark, the hosts got their golden chance to strike first. A corner kick came in from Kyereh went off Daniel Amartey’s chest, and as the Leicester City player attempted to get to the loose ball he went down from an apparent push by Bafana Bafana defender Rushine De Reuck. The contact was minimal but Ayew was more than happy to step up for the spot kick, coolly stutter stepping up before sending South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams the wrong way as he dispatched the penalty.

For a lengthy period following the goal, the teams cancelled each other out with Ghana calming down their approach and South Africa attempting to get out of the mentality of holding on now that they needed a goal. It took until the final thirty minutes of the match before Bafana started to make some progress in the Ghanaian half of the pitch. Percy Tau went on a dribbling run from the right wing, cutting inside before attempting a shot from 25 yards out that was easily gathered by Black Stars keeper Jojo Wollacott.

Exciting young winger Kamaldeen Sulemana nearly put the match away for Ghana, taking advantage of South Africa’s advanced back line to get behind the defense on a Kyereh pass. Williams attempted to come out but Sulemana got around the keeper and another defender before attempting to shoot from forty yards out into the empty net, but his off balance effort went wide.

South Africa pushed furiously for the leveler late on, but the Ghanaian defense was stubborn with left back Baba Rahman particularly stout in preventing Bafana Bafana from attacking down their preferred right wing. In the third minute of second half stoppage time, Ghanaian hearts stopped for a moment as a hopeful long ball from Williams was flicked into the penalty area and fell favorably for Percy Tau, but right back Andy Yiadom’s sliding challenge kept the Al Ahly forward from getting a shot off and Ghana just held out to spark joyful celebration on the pitch and in the stands.

Highlights of the match are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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