On his 100th appearance, Andre Ayew calmly slotted a first half penalty to send Ghana to the final round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Sunday at the Cape Coast stadium.
Ghana needed a win of any form to top group G and came out the blocks the more aggressive side.
The Black Stars pressed in the opening minutes of the game and were rewarded with three opportunities to take the lead.
The best of them fell to Daniel Kofi-Kyereh, who replaced the injured Mohammed Kudus. The St. Pauli forward was put through on goal but skied his effort.
Bafana Bafana slowly grew into the game but it was the Ghanaians who had the chance to take the lead 10 minutes to half time after Daniel Amartey was adjudged to have been fouled in the box.
Andre stepped up and sent Ronwen Williams the wrong way to give Milovan Rajevac’s side the lead.
South Africa gained more territory in the second half as Percy Tau tested Jojo Wollacot from range on two occasions.
Kamaldeen Sulemana also came close to doubling Ghana’s lead a couple of times but in the end, the one goal proved to be enough.
Andre Ayew caps 100th appearance in style
On 7 August 2007, Claude Le Roy gave Andre his first senior call-up in a friendly against Senegal. He made his international debut in that game coming on as a late substitute.
Less than a year later, Andre was named in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) squad to the surprise of many. Since that appearance, the winger became key part of Ghana’s squad and went on to play at two World Cups scoring two goals at the Mundial.
Andre has played every AFCON since his debut and is currently the country’s all time top scorer in the competition with nine goals.
In total, the Al Sadd forward has scored 22 goals in 100 appearances for the Black Stars.
More than 90% of his goals have come in competitive games, however, the penalty against South Africa might be his most significant.
As the captain of the side, missing out on what could possibly be his last World Cup would have dented his legacy.
The 31-year-old stepped up in the latter stages of the qualifiers scoring against Ethiopia and South Africa to help Ghana seal a place in the final round of the qualifiers.
Halfway there but more room for improvement
Ghana negotiating their way past Group G was the least expected of the four-time AFCON champions. Leaving it to the last day and qualifying via the third tie breaker which is goals scored shows how much a struggle qualification was for the Black Stars.
Throughout the qualifiers, Ghana made every game feel like a final. They needed a goalkeeping mistake to beat Ethiopia before drawing the reverse fixture.
Against Zimbabwe, Ghana seemed to have beaten them comfortably at home with a 3-1 scoreline. However, the game felt far from that as the Black Stars needed late goals from Thomas Partey and Andre to seal all three points.
Once again the Black Stars made the reverse fixture in Harare more difficult after opting to defend an early Partey free kick goal.
South Africa beat Ghana at home – a game that led to the sack of Charles Akonnor – as Hugo Broos maintained his 100% win record against Ghana.
However, it took Akonnor’s successor Rajevac to end Broos’ purple patch against Ghana after a crucial 1-0 victory in Cape Coast.
There are still various aspects of the team that needs improvement. The overall lack of control, chance creation and lack of a finishing touch would have to be worked on.
Luckily for the Serbian coach, there are about five months to the play-offs and an AFCON in between.
The feeling is he would have understood his squad more so Ghanaians can start seeing his imprints.
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