• South Africa qualify for Tokyo 2020 by beating Ghana on penalties
  • Shootout required after a thrilling 2-2 draw in third-place play-off
  • Egypt beat Côte d’Ivoire to secure the trophy, with both already qualified

South Africa have seized Africa’s third and final ticket to next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo. Bafana Bafana claimed the spot thanks to a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Ghana following a 2-2 draw in the third-place play-off of the CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

This was the last chance for these sides to qualify for the Olympics following semi-final defeats on Tuesday to Côte d’Ivoire and Egypt. The Pharaohs put the seal on a fine campaign by claiming the trophy in front an ecstatic Cairo crowd, beating Les Elephants 2-1 after extra time.

The hosts dominated for large spells and seemed on course for victory from the moment Karim El Eraki put them into a 37th-minute lead. But with the final seconds of the 90 ticking down, the Ivorians silenced the passionate home crowd through Aboubacar Doumbia’s last-gasp equaliser.

Egypt needed a hero and Ramadan Sobhi stepped up with 114 minutes on the clock, sparking joyful celebrations that are sure to continue long into the Cairo night.

South Africa, who have now qualified for the Olympics for the second successive edition, came out on top after a dramatic encounter in which they were twice pegged back by the dogged Black Meteors.

Bafana Bafana edged the match in terms of efforts on goal and ball possession and took the lead after just 15 minutes when Ghana’s Mohammed Habib put through his own goal.

Evans Mensah restored parity just four minutes into the second half though, and while Kamohelo Abel Mahlatsi reclaimed the advantage for South Africa on 62 minutes, Ghana struck back through Samuel Obeng to set up the shootout.

Even that decisive stage of the game proved to something of an epic, with 16 penalties in total taken – 11 of which were scored. The decisive kick belonged to Lyle Foster, who kept his cool to end Ghana’s brave resistance and spark wild celebrations among the jubilant South African players.

Leave a Reply