The top two positions in Group C remain unchanged ahead of the final round of the qualifying campaign
South Africa came back to hold Ghana to a 1-1 draw in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier which was played at FNB Stadium on Thursday evening.
The Black Stars opened the scoring through Mohammed Kudus after the restart, but Percy Tau levelled matters for Bafana Bafana in the Group C encounter.
Bafana were looking to avenge their 2-0 defeat to Ghana in the reverse fixture in November 2019 and edge closer to qualifying for the finals which will be hosted by Cameroon.
Mamelodi Sundowns duo of Andile Jali and Rivaldo Coetzee started in midfield, while Bafana returnee Ruzaigh Gamildien led the attack for coach Molefi Ntseki’s side.
Meanwhile, the Black Stars were hoping to open a gap at the top of the group standings with another win over Bafana and also boost their hopes of reaching the finals.
Italy-born Ghanaian forward Emmanuel Gyasi was handed his debut for the Black Stars by coach Charles Akonnor, while the experienced duo of Afriyie Acquah and Mubarak Wakaso started in midfield.
South Africa controlled the match in the opening proceedings and they threatened first when Thapelo Morena found himself unmarked in the box, but somehow the full-back hit the side-netting.
Bafana were forced to make a change after Jali went down having sustained a groin injury and he was replaced by fellow central midfielder Ben Motshwari 24 minutes into the match.
The hosts then upped the tempo and the ball fell kindly for S’fiso Hlanti on the edge of the box and he unleashed a powerful shot that was finger-tipped over the crossbar by Ghana goalkeeper Razak Abalora.
Ghana were under-siege, but they were fortunate when an unmarked Morena hit the side-netting for the second time on the night after being set-up by Tau and the score was 0-0 at the interval.
The Black Stars came back rejuvenated following their half-time team talk with Akonnor and they managed to break the deadlock through the highly-rated Kudus.
The Ajax Amsterdam playmaker found his way past Siyanda Xulu, before firing past South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams to hand Ghana a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute.
However, the lead only lasted for two minutes as Gamildien set-up Tau, who slotted past Abalora with his weaker right foot to make it 1-1 following a quick move by Ntseki’s side.
The momentum was with the hosts, who were pushing for their second goal of the game and Akonnor decided to pull one out midfielder Emmanuel Lomotey and he introduced Trabzonspor striker Caleb Ekuban.
Tau, who was tormenting the Black Stars defence with his dangerous runs, set-up Innocent Maela and the latter forced Abalora into a brilliant diving save as Bafana looked to snatch a late winning goal.
Coetzee attempted to score with a spectacular volley, but the Bafana midfielder’s effort flew over the crossbar in the latter stages of the encounter and ultimately, the match ended in a 1-1 draw on the night.
The result saw South Africa remain second on the group standings – level on points with leaders, Ghana with one match left for each team in the qualifying campaign.
Bafana will now take on Sudan away on Sunday, while the Black Stars host Sao Tome and Principe on the same day with the top two teams from Group C set to qualify for the finals.