28 January 2015
Bafana Bafana lost 2-1 to the Black Stars of Ghana on the night of 27 January, eliminating Shakes Mashaba’s side from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament taking place in Equatorial Guinea.
As has been the case throughout the competition, Bafana Bafana took the lead but allowed the opposition to come back and steal the show.
Mandla Masango gave the South Africans the first half lead with a sublime strike in the 17th minute, but late strikes by John Boye and Andre Ayew, son of legendary Abedi Pele, put paid to any chances South Africa had of making it into the last eight as Ghana, who lost the opening game to Senegal topped the group.
It was a sad end for Bafana Bafana, who had entered into the finals in Equatorial Guinea on the back of an unbeaten run. After Masango’s goal, the match immediately turned into war of attrition, becoming a ding-dong affair.
With news that Algeria was winning by a single goal, it meant South Africa had to push forward for another goal to proceed to the next round. But instead of going into the second half hard, it was the Black Stars who started on the offensive.
Despite this, Brilliant Khuzhwayo and his back four kept things tight. Khuzhwayo was in the thick of action, again punching the ball clear in the 55th minute from a good cross as Ghana threw every man upfront.
Meanwhile, Erick “Tower” Mathoho cleared all the high balls as Ghana continued to pump long balls into the box. In the 70th minute, Ghana made a double substitution in a bid to add some bite upfront and immediately equalised when substitute John Boye scored after he collected a loose ball inside the box and his strike gave Khuzhwayo no chance to make it 1-1.
Kwesi Appiah then hit the upright moments later as the double substitution started to pay dividends. It was at this juncture that South Africa needed to regroup as they were constantly pushed on the back foot. They Black Stars forced one corner after the other as they searched for the winner.
In the 82nd minute, Ghana took the lead through Andre Ayew whose perfect header gave Khuzhwayo no chance as Bafana Bafana again gave away yet another lead, as was the case in their previous two games.
It is not all doom and gloom for Mashaba and his rising charges, and they will have to pick up the pieces in the forthcoming competitions as the rebuilding exercise continues.