The Black Stars will be without players from the Premier League for the game due to the fact that South Africa is in the UK’s “red-list” countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
This means Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey and Crystal Palace forward, Jordan Ayew who both started against Ethiopia, will not be available for the match, along with Ayew’s Palace teammate, Jeff Schlupp, who picked up an injury in Friday’s game.
The duo from Championship side, Reading – Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom – will also miss the match later today. Daniel Kyereh and Kamaldeen Sulemana have also been barred from traveling to South Africa by their respective clubs.
This means either Jonathan Mensah or Joseph Aidoo could be handed a start in central defence with Alex Djiku. Yaw Yeboah could also be drafted in to replace the injured Schlupp, having played a few minutes against Ethiopia on Friday.
Black Stars Squad
Richard Atta (Hearts of Oak), Lawrence Ati-Zigi (St Gallen, Switzerland), Manaf Nurudeen (KAS Eupen, Belgium), Richard Ofori (Orlando Pirates, South Africa);Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo, Sain), Samuel Ashie Quaye (Accra Great Olympics), Philemon Baffour (Dreams FC), Alexander Djiku (Racing Strasbourg, France), Ismail Ganiyu (Asante Kotoko), Gideon Mensah (Girondins Bordeaux, France), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew, USA), Fatawu Mohammed (Hearts of Oak); Majeed Ashimeru (Anderlecht, Belgium), Baba Iddrisu (Mallorca, Spain), Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Steadfast FC), Emmanuel Lomotey (Amiens, France), Samuel Owusu (Al Fahya, Saudi Arabia), Mubarak Wakaso (Shenzhen, China), Yaw Yeboah (Wisla Krakow, Poland);Andre Ayew (Al Saad, Qatar), Daniel Afriyie Barnieh (Hearts of Oak), Joel Fameyeh (FC Orenburg, Russia), Emmanuel Gyasi (Spezia, Italy), Braydon Manu (SV Darmstadt, Germany), Kwame Opoku (SM Algier, Algeria).
South Africa have no new injury worries ahead of today’s game.
Striker Percy Tau, who came off early in their 0-0 draw with Zimbabwe, is expected to feature against the Black Stars. Tebogo Mokoena and Mothobi Mvala who were the standout performers for SA are also expected to start.
Today’s meeting between South Africa and Ghana is not unlike the last meeting between the two countries back in March at the FNB Stadium, which ended 1-1.
Just like today’s match, the Black Stars were coming off the back of a lacklustre performance in their previous match while the South Africans needed a win at home to get their qualifying campaign back on track.
Friday’s 1-0 win over Ethiopia, despite handing the Black Stars three points and taking Ghana to the top of their World Cup qualifying group, was not greeted with much enthusiasm by Ghanaians, who were far from impressed by the performance.
Saved from dropping two points at home against arguably the weakest team in the group by a goalkeeping blunder, C.K Akonnor’s side will need a significantly better performance this afternoon against South Africa.
Akonnor’s task has been made much more daunting by the absence of six players who started against Ethiopia due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, a drastic change might be exactly what the Black Stars gaffer needs. Stunted, stilted play, poor decision making and a penchant to be too elaborate cost Ghana a bigger victory on Friday.
More important for Akonnor than a win will be a good performance, as those have been few and far between in his relatively short time in charge of the team.
The replacements in the squad will also have to step up a bit after some quite underwhelming showings at the Cape Coast Stadium; Andre Ayew was barely a threat to Ethiopia, Jordan Ayew (who won’t play against South Africa) was flashy but largely ineffective in front of goal while the Stars’ double-pivot needs to take more responsibility with the ball.
A win against their major rival for the top spot in the group away from home, would send a strong signal to critics that this Black Stars team has a lot more to offer.
South Africa themselves picked up a creditable point in Zimbabwe in their first game but anything other than a win against Ghana would put their World Cup hopes in danger of faltering earlier than they would have expected.
They weren’t at their best in that game but a strong defensive performance saw them through a tricky tie. Facing an understrength Black Stars side at home will raise hopes that a win is not just a possibility but an expectation.
There was an inquest after Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for next year’s AFCON, not making an appearance at next year’s World Cup might be seen as a catastrophe.
What they said
Black Stars head coach C.K Akonnor: “If you watched our game [against Ethiopia], we created a lot of chances. These are the same chances [we converted] against Qatar to score five goals. So it’s not a situation whereby we cannot score goals. I strongly believe we will score goals. We are doing well and creating chances. With time [the goals] will come.”
Black Stars goalkeeper, Richard Ofori: “I am going to face most of the players that I know very well. I know their qualities, they are very good. But at the end of the day, we need to show that we are Ghana and we need to win. We are determined and we hope everything will go well on the field of play so that at the end of the day we will make our country proud.”
South Africa head coach, Hugo Broos: “Maybe they [Ghana] will be a little weaker, but they still have very good players. Even when some players are not there, you are still a strong team. We are focused on building a team, but on the other side, we want results. On Friday everybody wanted to win [in Zimbabwe], [today] will be the same. We will try to win and after the game I will see if I am satisfied or not. I will not be satisfied if I see a team that does not fight. The mentality on Friday was good, so I hope to see the same thing [today].”
- After the victory of Ethiopia, the Black Stars have now won two of their last five matches. The other victory came against São Tomé and Príncipe.
- The 1-0 win over Ethiopia marked the fifth time in the last six matches that the Black Stars have failed to score more than one goal.
- In that period, the Stars have conceded four goals and scored five of their own
- Since taking over as head coach of the Black Stars, CK Akonnor’s side have won four, lost three and drawn two of his first nine matches.
- South Africa are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions since losing to Sudan in the final match of the AFCON qualifiers.
- Six of those matches were, however, in the regional COSAFA Cup, including a penalty shootout win over invitees Senegal.
- They have scored 12 and conceded 2 in that period.
- Bafana Bafana began their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a goalless draw in Zimbabwe.
Head to head
- The Black Stars have won four of their 14 meetings with South Africa, losing five. Five other encounters have ended in draws.
- Ghana have scored 13 goals against South Africa and conceded 12.
- Ghana’s biggest win was a 3-0 win in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in June 2004. South Africa’s biggest victory was a 3-0 win in the semifinals of the AFCON in 1996.
- The Black Stars have not lost to South Africa since a 1-0 friendly defeat in 2010. They’ve won two and drawn two since.
- The Stars have actually not lost a competitive match to South Africa since their defeat at the 1996 AFCON.
Kick-Off: 16:00 GMT (4pm Ghana) (18:00 CAT)
Venue: Soccer City (South Africa)
Referee: Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)
There will be live commentary of the game on Citi FM (97.3 FM) in Ghana. Coverage and analysis begins at 15:30 GMT.