Afcon 2021 qualifiers: Ghana coach Akonnor opens up on tactical approach to South Africa draw

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The Black Stars boss reflects on Thursday’s meeting with Bafana Bafana in their penultimate Group C clash 

Ghana coach CK Akonnor believes their mission for Thursday’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa was achieved by the 1-1 draw.

The Black Stars and Bafana Bafana shared the spoils in their penultimate Group C fixture in Johannesburg, with Percy Tau cancelling out Mohammed Kudus’ 49th-minute opener in the 52nd minute.

The outcome has left both teams atop the table with Ghana booking their place at the next continental championship.

“Going into the game, we knew what was expected of us. We knew the strength of the South Africans, how they would play and attack, so we were well prepared to play without the ball. Team organisation was key for us,” Akonnor said at the post-match press conference.

“We came here with the idea that if we could even go with a draw, we would be fine. We didn’t need to lose and we were able to achieve that.

“In the early minutes of the game, we struggled because we realised they came with a three-back and they put a lot of pressure on us.

“We weren’t ready for that. Slowly, we had to do a tactical change in the process of the game. We managed to go in the first half but intended the second half, we discussed a lot how we should approach the game and we were doing very well in that sense.”

Whereas Ghana have confirmed their place at Cameroon 2021 with a match to spare, South Africa will have it all to play for when they engage third-placed Sudan, who sit just a point below, for a final showdown on Sunday.

“We also realised that we didn’t need to do much upfront, so we had to take off our striker and brought in another midfielder to be able to have the ball more and play more. And somehow within that time, we got a goal which was good for us,” Akonnor added.

“Once we had a goal, we thought we were ahead of them and they got the equaliser. Again, it became tight. The pressure was on. But again, team organisation – the boys did very well.

“The captain Wakaso was able to do a lot of work, not just playing but of course organising the team. And so they showed a lot of character, good character.

“We came out with a draw which we are very happy about.”

Ghana will host bottom-placed Sao Tome and Principe in their last match of the series in Accra on Sunday. 

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