André Ayew was involved in both goals as he accidentally set up the first with a mishit shot before showing bravery against the keeper to grab the winner. John Boye was the unlikely benefactor of Ayew's mishit as he snatched the equaliser for Ghana. South Africa's Mandla Masango opened the scoring with what was probably the goal of the tournament so far.
Like all the other three groups in this tournament it was still all to play for in the final round of games with all four sides still able to progress. Senegal sat top with 4 points with Ghana and Algeria on three each whilst South Africa brought up the rear with one point. Whilst Ghana were expected go through will Algeria before the tournament started, history was not on their side. They had never even scored against South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations never mind winning against them.
South Africa’s position in fourth was no one’s fault but their own after they took the lead in both of their previous group games before losing to Algeria and drawing with Senegal. Ghana, on the other hand, were considerably more unlucky in their opening. They took the lead against Senegal before the Lions of Teranga equalised and then Moussa Sow scored right at the death for Senegal. After a hard fought game they eventually got a late winner of their own against Algeria after Asamoah Gyan, who missed the first game with mild malaria, scored in the 90th minute to bring Ghana back into play in terms of group positioning.
In a surprising move South Africa’s head coach, Ephraim Mashaba, changed his goalkeeper for the third game in a row with Nhlanhla Khuzwayo coming for Thapelo Mabokgwane. Also replaced were Thulani Hlatshwayo, Oupa Manyisa and Sibusiso Vilakazi with Rivaldo Coetzee, Mandla Masango and Bongani Ndulula coming in. Ghana made only one change with Mubarak Wakaso coming for Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu.
Both sides were in an attacking mood at the start of the game with Ghana creating the first chance of the game thanks to a free kick from Wakaso. He fired the ball in from the left hand side before Jonathan Mensah headed the ball back across goal sending it just wide. Then Christian Atsu made a superb run down the right wing before cutting inside and passing to Jordan Ayew.
The Lorient striker’s first time effort was stopped by Khuzwayo but he collected the rebound and fired at goal from point blank range only for it to be blocked on the line before going out for a corner. It came to nothing and South Africa counter-attacked quickly with Thuso Phala on the ball. He crossed the ball for Bongani Ndulula but it was just too far in front of the South African striker.
In the 16th minute we witnessed arguably the goal of the tournament so far from Masango who smacked in the volley from the edge of the box. The ball was flung to the edge of the Ghanaian box and Masango headed it on. Daniel Amartey got his head to it but as it came back down Masango got off the ground fired in wonderfully from outside the area.
Afterwards Wakaso was lucky not to be sent off for a horror challenge on Andile Jali but amazingly not even a free kick was given as Jali’s shot went out for a goal kick. Predictably Wakaso was involved in the next chance for Ghana, his free kick was only cleared as far as Abdul Rahman Baba whose blistering effort was straight at the keeper. That chance brought the half to a close as Ghana struggled to create with the South African defence continuing to fall back.
Almost immediately after the football resumed Gyan nearly scored when he had the ball inside the box but he leant back as he let loose and as a result it went over the bar. A barren spell followed for both sides as Ghana were wasting their final ball and South Africa were concentrating on keeping the likes of Gyan & Co. out. In the 69th minute Kwesi Appiah and Agyemang-Badu came on for Jordan Ayew and Afriyie Acquah and this made the difference for the Black Stars.
The Ghanaians immediately went up a gear and in the 73rd minute they brought themselves level thanks to an unlikely source. André Ayew completely mishit his shot from the edge of the box and the ball fell to centre-back John Boye who spun inside the box before sending it home into the bottom corner. Subsequently Appiah had an effort from the edge of the box that deflected off of Rivaldo Coetzee and was destined for the bottom corner before Khuzwayo produced an incredible stop to deny him.
10 minutes later Ghana took the lead and swung the group. Baba crossed the ball into the box and whilst everyone else stood still André Ayew flew in and knocked it past the keeper to put his side in front. This meant Ghana would go through in place of Senegal who were 2-0 down against Algeria. Both games finished that way causing great celebrations from both the Ghanaian players and fans and even managed to produce a smile from manager Avram Grant.