One or both of Ghana and South Africa will be out of the African Nations Cup when they complete their Group C action in Mongomo on Tuesday.
Ghana need a win to make sure of their progression, while victory for South Africa would give them a chance if Algeria defeat Senegal and Bafana Bafana can make up a three-goal swing on the goal-difference.
South Africa have played well in the tournament so far – for an hour in each of their opening games at least in the 3-1 loss to Algeria and 1-1 draw with Senegal.
But a lack of cutting edge in front of goal, injuries to key defenders and problems with their goalkeepers are why they find themselves bottom of the pool going into the final round of games.
Ghana have, ironically, not looked as impressive in losing 2-1 to Senegal in their opener and then needing a moment of brilliance from Asamoah Gyan late in the game to down Algeria last time out.
Coach Avram Grant will hope that goal proves the spark for them, but admits he comes up against a difficult opponent in Bafana Bafana.
“Nothing has been decided yet in this group,” Grant told reporters.
“Yes, we may have beaten the number one team in Africa [Algeria], but we now face South Africa, who qualified for this tournament ahead of a big team like Nigeria
“They played very well in their first game even though they eventually lost to Algeria. They are a fantastic team.”
Grant also tried to portray his Black Stars as a young side full of battlers, rather than the finished article.
“We are a young team who have shown we do not give up and so we will come into any game to win it.”
Ghana have lost all three previous meetings with South Africa at the Nations Cup finals and have yet to manage a goal.
South Africa will be without centre-back Thulani Hlatshwayo after he suffered a head injury against Senegal, but will give a late fitness test to teenager Rivaldo Coetzee.
They are a solid enough side with among the best midfield combinations in the tournament, but have failed to turn that possession and trickery into goals.
“The coach [Skakes Mashaba] has asked us many times – when are you going to shoot,” experienced striker Bernard Parker said. “It is just up to us, the players, to choose our moments.
“We’re good in combining, we’re good at clicking well in the final third but we don’t get the final pass or take the initiative. I don’t think maybe we’re aggressive enough in terms of taking responsibility in the final third.”
Bafana were winners of the Nations Cup in 1996, runners-up in 1998 and won bronze in 2000, but since then it has been a steady decline for the side.
They have won just one of their last 14 finals matches, keeping only two clean-sheets in that time.
You get the feeling that they will get a goal on Tuesday night, so the big question is whether they can keep Ghana at bay.
Source : allAfrica.com