South Africa joined Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, after finishing third in the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, beating Ghana 6-5 on penalties after 2-2 draw in the playoff here on Friday evening.
The thrilling encounter saw both sides performing high level football, and South Africa had the last smile, which was for the third time in their history and second successive after Rio 2016, according the official website of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The luck wasn’t at Ghana at the end, but they will return home with heads high.
Habib Mohamed’s own goal at the quarter hour mark gave South Africa an early lead. Habib tried to stop Luther Singh’s cross but turned it into own net.
The South Africans had the upper hand through the opening half, but wasted many chances to double their lead in the first half.
Ghana returned much stronger, and tied the score only five minutes into the second half. Evans Mensah’s curling shot beat South African goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto.
But the South Africans responded immediately. Two minutes after the hour mark, the substitute Kamohelo Mhlatsi who barely spent a minute on the pitch restored their lead, when he received Lyle Foster’s pass to send a scorcher inside the Ghanaian net.
When it looked all set for South Africa’s win, Ghana scored a late equalizer. Evans Mensah rounded his marker and sent a cross to substitute Samuel Obeng who made no mistake to restore parity five minutes from time.
The game was sent directly to penalty shootout.
The shootout saw both sides missing twice, before South Africa’s goalkeeper Mpoto saved Michael Agbekpornu kick to send his side to Tokyo.
Hosts Egypt will face Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the U-23 AFCON, the third edition of the tournament. Enditem