Kwesi Appiah’s men put up an assured performance at the Cape Coast stadium, scoring twice on either side of the half to down the Bafana Bafana.
In a game where much was expected from the Black Stars, Thomas Partey and Mohammed Kudus stepped up to grab the all-important goals.
Partey opened the scoring in the 36th after hitting a fierce shot from 35 years, before Kudus came on from the bench to seal the result for the Black Stars.
Here are five key observations from the game:
5. The love is back… for now
In recent years, there has been a gap between the Black Stars and Ghanaians, with the wounds inflicted during the 2014 World Cup still yet to heal.
However, there were no signs of apathy towards the team when they stepped out of the Cape Coast stadium on Thursday night. Rather, every touch was greeted with huge cheers as the players duly delivered on the pitch.
For a team that is yearning to win back the love and affection of the nation, the support they had at the stadium comes as a huge statement. On social media too, the hashtag #BringBackTheLove was trending at no.1 all through Thursday night and even into Friday morning.
On the evidence on how Ghanaians responded to the win over South Africa, it is fair to conclude that the love for the Black Stars is back, albeit only for now. And as long as the Black Stars continue to win, they will surely continue to have the support of the fans.
4. Kwesi Appiah/CK Akonnor combo could take Ghana far
Throughout Kwesi Appiah’s stay with the Black Stars, he has always been doubted and touted as a man not fit for the job. Some quarters even believe he currently has a job simply because of his ties with the ruling government.
Calls for his sack heightened even more when Ghana exited the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the round 16 stage. However, the 59-year-old showed flashes of his competence in every move he made on Thursday against South Africa.
His line-up, tactics and substitutions were all near-perfect. Having the intuitive CK Akonnor as his assistant, the pair were constantly seen discussing ideas on the touchline. Appiah desperately wanted Akonnor as his assistant and has been defending that decision since his wish was granted.
On the basis of what we saw against South Africa, it is evident that both men are made for each other. For the first time since Appiah became Ghana coach, he was seen actively issuing instructions on the touchline, while Akonnor also occasionally chipped in with valuable contributions. It’s still early days yet, but the pair already look like a combination that will take this team far.
3. Same old South Africa
South Africa came into Thursday’s game with a dodgy reputation, with many wondering whether the Bafana Bafana that turned up against Egypt at the AFCON will show up or it would be the side that faced Nigeria in the quarter-final of that tournament.
After 90 minutes, it was clear which South African side actually showed up. For all the talk about the potential that Bafana Bafana have, nothing really seemed to work for them.
Bar a series of half chances created midway through the first half, this encounter was one that Ghana totally dominated. Molefi Ntseki’s men showed no urgency in their play and were often reactive instead of being proactive.
The Black Stars were there for the taking, with Ghana parading a team with two debutants. However, South Africa – as they’ve become known for – let the chance slip by to record a famous victory.
2. Gideon Mensah, Emmanuel Boateng fail to take the chances
Despite the Black Stars winning comfortably against South Africa, not every player was on top of his game during the encounter. Two players who fall in this category are Gideon Mensah and Emmanuel Boateng.
The pair were handed starts by Kwesi Appiah but they did very little to justify their inclusion. Mensah, playing his debut game for the Black Stars, endured a torrid night at left-back and was often left chasing shadows.
Boateng was also paired with Jordan Ayew in attack and the only notable contribution he made during his stay on the pitch was miscuing a shot wide off target.
Both players are, however, still young and will definitely improve with more game time. But on the big night against a lethargic Bafana Bafana, they failed to take their chances.
1. Kudus, Iddrisu make huge claim for regular spots
While two players failed to take their chances, another two made sure they grabbed the headlines in the aftermath of the Ghana vs South Africa game. Mohammed Kudus and Iddrisu Baba have been knocking on the doors of the Black Stars for some time now, and they finally had their reward on Thursday.
Iddrisu started alongside Thomas Partey in midfield and barely put a foot wrong. The Real Mallorca anchorman displayed an assured performance in midfield, often winning the ball and effectively dictating play.
Kudus, on the other hand, came on as a second-half substitute and immediately made his presence felt by scoring Ghana’s second goal. The young attacker’s goal epitomized everything he is about; he’s energetic, technical and goal-hungry.
Both players still have work to do to become regulars in the Black Stars, but they definitely made their marks and have now staked a major claim to be considered in the starting line-up for the clash against Sao Tome on Monday.