Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki suffered defeat in his first competitive match in charge of the national side as South Africa were soundly beaten 2-0 by Ghana in a Group C 2021 Afcon qualifier played at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
The home side started on the front foot immediately, putting South Africa under pressure which resulted in an early free-kick that came to nothing as well as a shout for handball.
In the 11th minute, Jordan Ayew came close to scoring with a clever flick while just two minutes later Emmanuel Boateng miss-hit his attempt on goal. Bradley Grobler had Bafana's first clear-cut chance on goal in the 16th minute but he could only sky his attempt over the bar.
South Africa then lost Bongani Zungu to injury with Thapelo Morena replacing him. The first goal came in the 36th minute when Thomas Partey's long-range effort beat Ronwen Williams in the Bafana goal to put Ghana 1-0 at half-time.
Ghana started the second half just like they did the first as they pressurized South Africa from the start.
Despite their dominance, they could not find the second goal as Jordan Ayew went close and Partey fired against the crossbar. Andre Ayew then saw his header fly wide in the 72nd minute as Ghana, driven on by their home support, kept South African under massive pressure.
Much like in the first half, that pressure paid off in the 80th minute when Kudus Mohammed scored with a fine shot that beat William to make the score 2-0. And that's the way it stayed till the full-time whistle.
South Africa now return home to face Sudan on Sunday, November 17 in a match of great importance after Sudan won their opening match against Sao Tome and Principe 4-0.
But their trip back to SA is clouded in uncertainty as SA Airways (SAA) has cancelled nearly all its domestic‚ regional and international flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday as the embattled airline faces the “mother of all strikes” by unions.
This comes after the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association announced that they would ground all planes on Friday. This was in response to the cash-strapped airline saying that more than 900 staff could be affected by restructuring as unions demanded a wage increase.
Acting South African Football Association (Safa) chief executive officer Gay Mokoena told SowetanLIVE they are crossing their fingers that Bafana will be able to return back to SA in time to face the Sudanese.
“We are closely watching the developments at SAA and we are in communication with them regarding the strike on Friday. What we understand is that the strike may not have an impact on incoming flights to South Africa‚” said Mokoena.
The acting Safa CEO said they have developed a contingency plan in case the national carrier is unable to fly from Ghana on Friday.
“As part of Plan B‚ we may have to look at Ethiopian Airlines because they have a flight coming to South Africa on Friday‚” said Mokoena.
But should Bafana use Ethiopian Airlines‚ there is a possibility of friction between Safa and SAA as the two parties have a five-year partnership. The sponsorship agreement is in its third year and secures SAA as the official airline for Bafana and other SA national teams.
Mokoena was not in a position to give the exact details of Bafana’s return flight on Friday but it is believed that the team will be on SA210‚ which will leave Accra at 09:35 and arrive in Johannesburg on 17:25.
An SAA statement issued on Wednesday said some regional flights will not be affected by the strike‚ including SA210 from Accra.
SAA confirmed that other regional flights will also operate as normal on Friday morning‚ including SA147 from Maputo‚ SA067 from Lusaka‚ SA025 from Harare and SA073 from Windhoek.
– Sports24 / Sowetan