Bafana Bafana land vital win over Ghana to steer World Cup qualifying quest on track

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Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Gallo Images)
Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Gallo Images)

Bongokuhle Hlongwane scored in the final minutes to give Bafana Bafana an all-important 1-0 victory against Ghana in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier at FNB Stadium on Monday.

As it happened | Bafana Bafana 1-0 Ghana

The win sees Bafana Bafana (4 points) take first place in Group G, with Ghana (3 points) moving to second place.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe face off against each other on Tuesday evening (18:00).  

Only top spot in each of the groups will progress to the next round of qualification, and while Bafana still have for fixtures to go, they are well-placed early on in their campaign following this result. 

After returning to South African shores over the weekend following a disappointing goalless draw away to Zimbabwe, head coach Hugo Broos tweaked his team for the mighty Black Stars.

Youngsters Ethan Brooks (20) and Hlongwane (21) were given a starting berth as Gift Links and Luther Singh were shifted to the substitutes bench.

The Ghanaians arrived in Johannesburg with a slender 1-0 victory against a spirited Ethiopian outfit and were determined to depart South Africa with points in the bag.

The Black Stars started the first stanza with much energy, and their movement of the ball kept the Bafana players alert.

Ghana probed the opposition area and pressed Bafana deep in their half, looking to capitalise on the home side's nerves early in the match.

Emmanuel Lomotey had a chance to test Ronwen Williams from a dead-ball situation, but the 40-yard strike did not bother the South African captain as he made an easy save.

Bafana held a much-better looking shape than they did against Zimbabwe as they dealt with the Ghanaian press with great finesse, which was largely down to the collective effort in defence and midfield.

As tired legs prevailed for the Black Stars, Broos' charges began to get the better of Ghana in the attack.

Teboho Mokoena tested Richard Ofori from a 30-yard free-kick, and the Buccaneers' keeper parried the shot, which landed for Mothobi Mvala.

However, the midfielder failed to capitalise as his effort floated over the crossbar.

Percy Tau, who did not have his best match against Zimbabwe, looked a more determined player at Soccer City against Ghana.

He was nearly rewarded with a goal for his efforts as he headed the ball past Ofori, completing a great attacking move, but he was flagged offside by the linesman.

However, the replay showed that Tau, who recently signed with Al Ahly, was onside and should have bagged his 14th goal for Bafana Bafana.

At the other side of the half-time whistle, Mvala nearly netted a bicycle effort that caught Ofori off-guard but luckily for Ghana, the ball went narrowly wide.

Ofori was then soon stretchered off as he picked up an injury and was replaced by Lawrence Ati-Zigi.

Bafana kept probing, and Hlongwane, who continued to pile the pressure on the Ghanaian defence, got lucky.

The 21-year-old found himself in the perfect striker's position to toe-poke a low cross into the back of the net to send the Bafana bench into a state jubilation and ensure South Africa move to the top of Group G.

Bafana will now continue their quest for a spot at the 2022 World Cup next month with home and away matches against Ethiopia.

Only the 10 group (A-J) winners will advance to the final round of qualification for Qatar 2022.

They will then go into a draw and face each other to decide the final five nations representing Africa on the global stage.

Next year's World Cup, the first time hosted in the middle east, is expected to take place from 21 November - 18 December.

Friday, 3 September

Zimbabwe 0-0 Bafana Bafana

Monday, 6 September

Bafana Bafana 1-0 Ghana

Wednesday, 6 October

Ethiopia v Bafana Bafana - TBA

Sunday, 10 October 

Bafana Bafana v Ethiopia - TBA

Thursday, 11 November

Bafana Bafana v Zimbabwe - TBA

Sunday, 14 November

Ghana v Bafana Bafana - TBA
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