A seemingly revived Ghana Black Stars contingent yesterday managed to hold South Africa’s Bafana Bafana to a gleaming 1-1 drawn in their special international tie at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
It was not a fabulous Ghana performance, but still good enough to give fans something to cheer about ahead of the string of competitive games in store.
Having left thousands of fans disappointed after that barren result against Uganda’s Cranes in a Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Tamale Sports Stadium last Friday, the players knew all-too well they had to ‘spit fire’ all evening to bring back the smiles.
Playing minus the likes of full-house defender Jonathan Mensah, striker Jordan Ayew and combative midfielder Afriyie Acquah, who failed to travel with the team due to injuries, the Stars gave an imposing account of themselves – though their performance dipped after the break.
After a sustained pressure on the South Africans, Ghana struck the lead from the spot in the 38th minute through Mubarak Wakaso to silence the noisy Durban crowd. Bafana was paying dearly for some piece of lousy defending in front of their own box as Oupa Manyisa had his pass picked off by Harrison Afful, who was in turn fouled by Siyabonga Nhlapo for the penalty.
Moments before the goal, the Stars came dangerously close when Christian Atsu smacked the ball across the face of goal, but Abdul Majeed Waris was unable to turn it in.
However, just five minutes into the second stanza, Ayanda Patosi curled home a beautiful equaliser on the edge of the box to beat Adam Kwarasey, sending the home crowd into raptures. The goal-scorer was taken off nine minutes later for Thulani Serero.
The Stars’ trainer Avram Grant also brought on Edwin Gyimah and Enock Adu Kofi for Afful and Warris in the 62nd and 70th minutes respectively in a bid to pump more blood into the team’s dying arteries but the scoreline still remained the same.
Skipper Asamoah Gyan was introduced in place of man-of-the-match Wakaso nine minutes from the final signal, with his presence momentarily lighting up the game that could only finish in a stalemate.
The Stars have come under an avalanche of criticism as a result of their white-bread performance of late, and a victory yesterday could have sapped some pressure off them.
Yesterday’s friendly was part of Ghana’s preparations for their next World Cup qualifier against Egypt which will be played in Alexandria, next month.
After the Egypt nerve-jangling cracker, it would be Congo’s turn to visit Ghana for the third qualifier in September 2017 before the Stars embark on two away matches against Congo and the Uganda in September and November 2017 respectively.
By John Vigah