South Africa joined Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after finishing the ongoing Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in third place, defeating Ghana 6-5 on penalties after 2-2 draw in the third-place match played at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday evening.
After a thrilling encounter that saw both sides performing high-level football, it was South Africa who had the last smile when they secured their place in next summer’s Olympics for the third time in their history and second successive after Rio 2016. Ghana will return home with heads high after some breathtaking performances that gained people’s hearts, but luck wasn’t at their side at the end.
Ghana’s Habib Mohamed scored in his own net at the quarter-hour mark to give South Africa an early lead. Habib tried to stop Luther Singh’s cross but he wrongly turned it into his net.
The South Africans had the upper hand through the opening half but wasted many chances to double their lead as both sides went to the break with 1-0 lead for the Southern side.
Ghana returned much stronger, and five minutes after the break they equalized. Evans Mensah received the outside the penalty area and sent a curling shot to beat South Africa’s goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto.
But the South Africans responded immediately. Two minutes after the hour mark, the substitute Kamohelo Mhlatsi who barely spent a minute on the pitch restored their lead, when he received Lyle Foster’s pass to send a scorcher inside the Ghanaian net.
And when it looked all set for South Africa’s win, Ghana scored a late equalizer. Evans Mensah rounded his marker and sent a cross that fell to substitute Samuel Obeng who made no mistake to score and restore parity yet again five minutes from time. The game was sent directly to penalty shootout to determine the winner.
The shootout saw both sides missing twice, before South Africa’s goalkeeper Mpoto saved Emmanuel Kudjoe’s kick to send his side to Tokyo.
Samuel A. Boakye-Buckman (popularly known as Dada Oliseh) is a self-motivated young journalist with a passion for telling stories better with pictures. He is the founder, owner, editor and bankroller of www.ghanasoccernews.org as well as this website, www.totalsportsgh.com. Dada Oliseh is again the brain behind the Dada Oliseh Photos brand that produces awesome pictures of all sporting activities, nature, and other occasions.
He has a vast experience in the reporting of sports in Ghana especially football-related activities in Ghana and beyond. A former employee of Hearts News (official mouthpiece of Accra Hearts of Oak), 90 minutes sports paper, National Sports Authority, Footballcrusader.com, sportscrusader.com, and ghanafootballnews.com, Samuel is one of the few energetic and self-motivated young journalist in Ghana with a large following on social media, especially Facebook (https://web.facebook.com/boakye.buckman.9). He is well known for his frequent updates from all over the country with pictures to match. He is also a correspondent for a few international websites, including CAF. In recent times, he has introduced, as part of his many talents, the live streaming of matches and football-related activities. He lives in Accra Ghana.