Ghana have marked their return to the big four of women’s football in Africa with a third place finish at the 10th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, after defeating South Africa 1-0 on Friday at the Ahmadou Ahidjio stadium in Yaounde.
A lone goal from Linda Eshun ensured the victory for the Black Queens, who until this edition had not gone beyond the group stage since 2006.
South Africa on the other hand have, for a second time in a row, now settled for the heart breaking fourth place.
In a match that saw substitutions made on either side due to injury, Yussif Basigi’s charges had the first real threat at goal when captain Elizabeth Addo won a free kick in a promising position after she was brought down by South Africa’s defender, Mamello Makhabane. Addo, however, flashed her shot wide.
Kusi Alice and Florence Dadson also had good opportunities to have gotten the lead for the West Africans, but their efforts yielded nothing.
At the other end, South Africa, who were below par compared to their performance against Nigeria in the semi-finals, had their fair share of chances.
Jane Refiloe hit a strong header off a delightful cross from Jermaine Seoposenwe but Patricia Mantey, who was in between the sticks for Ghana, parried it for a corner kick.
And Janine van Wyk also watched as Mantey tipped her free kick unto the top of her net.
The second half of the match saw a lot more chances. And it was Linda Eshun who opened the scoring for Ghana in the 48th minute. The unmarked defender headed the Portia Boakye’s corner into the left corner of Andile Dlamini’s net.
A more spirited South Africa sort desperately for an equalizer but the final ball was the problem.
Meanwhile Samira Suleman, who came in for injured Florence Dadson kept terrorizing the South African defence as Ghana looked to take advantage of counter attacks.
But South Africa had the initiative late on. Thembi Kgatlana who had replaced Leandra Smeda, went passed Eshun and Janet Egyir as she swiftly drove in from the right. However, Mgcoyi could not meet her cross.
And in a last gasp for the equalizer which would probably send the match to extra time, Kgatlana’s cross to could only fly past an onrushing Linda Mothalo, who intended to head into the Mantey’s goal.
With third place now settled, the anticipation now shifts to the final of the 10th Women’s AFCON on Saturday. An electric atmosphere is expected when the hosts Cameroon file out against the defending Champions Nigeria.