Bafana Bafana began their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Ghana at the Cape Coast Stadium on Thursday evening.
Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki made a number of changes to the side that beat Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge, as Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi, Sifiso Hlanti and Thamsanqa Mkhize all returned, while Percy Tau and Bongani Zungu also both made a comeback to boost the side.
The visitors had a great chance to open the scoring in the 16th minute after Tau’s free-kick fell into the path of Bradley Grobler just outside the six-yard box but the SuperSport United striker ballooned his strike over the top corner.
However, Thomas Partey broke the deadlock for the Black Stars with their first meaningful effort on target in the 35th minutes, after letting fly with a low strike that left goalkeeper Ronwen Williams flat-footed.
Bafana, however, managed to carve out an opening on the stroke of halftime after Thapelo Morena, who replaced the injured Zungu, raced clear on the right side before seeing his effort smothered by shot-stopper Richard Ofori.
South Africa were under pressure in the early stages of the second stanza, but were unable to carve out an opening in the final third as the likes of Tau and Lorch were kept quiet.
Ntseki reacted by bringing on Lebogang Mothiba in place of Grobler just after the hour-mark, while Kermit Erasmus came on for Thembinkosi Lorch moments later to take the game to the Black Stars.
However, Ghana got their second goal with ten minutes remaining after Bafana gifted possession to Mohammed Kudos, who had space and time to power home an unstoppable strike into the top corner.
Bafana lacked the cutting edge going forward in the closing phase, with Ofori having nothing to do in goal as the encouter ended 2-0, with the Black Stars taking second spot in Group C with three points, while South Africa sit in third place.