The Black Stars of Ghana beat the Bafana Bafana of South Africa 2-0 in the opening game of their AFCON 2021 qualifiers at the Cape Coast Stadium.
Thomas Partey and substitute Kudus Mohammed scored in either half to hand Kwesi Appiah’s men all three points in front of a capacity crowd in Cape Coast.
The Ghana Football Association launched a campaign dubbed #BringBackTheLove, with the team making stops in Winneba and Mankessim on their way to Cape Coast.
The fans certainly showed their love, filing in their numbers to the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, with some fans having to sit on the floor because all the seats were occupied.
The Black Stars started in a 4-4-2 with Kwesi Appiah opting to play Andre Ayew and Alfred Duncan out on the wings of a midfield 4.
Both players struggled to create width for the team, Duncan, in particular, struggling to combine defensive duties with attacking verve.
Ghana mounted early pressure nonetheless, with quickfire setpieces from Thomas Partey and Duncan threatening the South African goal area.
But once the Bafana settled into the game, they had also discovered that Ghana left-back Gideon Mensah, handed a debut start in the absence of Lumor Agbenyenu, was a weak link. And they exploited it to the discomfort of the Cape Coast crowd.
From minute 15 to 30, play crawled by, interrupted by injuries, one such caused by a terrible tackle from Ghana striker Emmanuel Boateng which got him yellow-carded.
Then on 36 minutes, Ghana took the lead through Thomas Partey.
The Atletico Madrid man picked up a loose ball from deep, made a trademark bursting surge forward; urged to shoot by the crowd, he let fly a screamer which took a wicked deflection on its way into the back of the net.
Williams was rooted in the Bafana Bafana goal as the 20,000 strong Cape Coast crowd erupted in delirium.
Ghana went into the half time break leading 1-0.
Back from recess, Kwesi Appiah’s men looked to consolidate their momentum, going close in the 50th minute but Emmanuel Boateng’s header from an exquisitely executed free-kick from Duncan was straight at Williams.
The Daliang Yifang striker then shot over following delicious work from Jordan Ayew down the left flank.
Just after the hour mark, Kwesi Appiah brought on youngster Kudus Mohammed for his senior debut and the 19-year-old did not waste time in stealing the headlines.
A few deft touches were enough to convince the crowd of his ability but he made sure he made history on minute 79.
After Ghana regained possession in their own half, Partey slipped it onto Kudus who took on 3 South African defenders, dummied them from left, before cutting into his right foot, then he unleashed a cracker onto the roof of the net.
It was a dream debut, a great decision by Kwesi Appiah repaid 10-fold.
The crowd, certainly more than the capacity of the stadium, went home happy, Appiah had his 3 points and the love was certainly back.
Ghana will next take on Sao Tome and Principe on Monday in their second group game and they will be hoping to make it 2 wins out of 2.