Fans during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers match between South Africa and Sudan at Orlando Stadium on November 17 2019 in Johannesburg, SA. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEFTY SHIVAMBU
Fans during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers match between South Africa and Sudan at Orlando Stadium on November 17 2019 in Johannesburg, SA. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEFTY SHIVAMBU

Ghana laboured to a 1-0 victory over minnows São Tomé e Príncipe in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C qualifier on Monday to likely turn the push for a place in Cameroon into a two-horse race between Bafana Bafana and Sudan.

Unless Ghana capitulate when the qualifiers resume in August 2020‚ their home win over main pool rivals SA, followed by an away victory on Monday, means it is highly likely they will finish in the top two in the pool‚ leaving the others to fight over one position.

Ghana have six points so far‚ while Bafana Bafana are second with three points — above Sudan on the head-to-head rule. But the Black Stars were made to work hard by São Tomé e Príncipe on a difficult artificial pitch not dissimilar to Seychelles’s home stadium, where Bafana were held 0-0 in an Afcon  qualifier ahead of the 2019 finals in Egypt.

São Tomé e Príncipe were physical‚ but barely packed any sort of punch upfront as Ghana controlled all the possession without creating a host of chances.

Maritzburg United keeper Richard Ofori started in goal again and kept another clean sheet — he has now conceded just once in his last eight and a half hours between the sticks for the Black Stars.

Jordan Ayew scored a penalty early in the second half after a horrendous mistake from São Tomé e Príncipe goalkeeper Gilmar Eusebio‚ who dropped a routine catch and then pulled Emmanuel Boateng to the ground as the forward went to chase the loose ball.

Certainly, Bafana should expect to be far superior technically than São Tomé e Príncipe when they meet in a double-header home and away in August and September 2020‚ but they may well have to grab the scraps of chances on offer.

São Tomé e Príncipe — an organised by limited outfit — showed little ambition to get forward‚ but kept their shape well and made it hard for Ghana to create anything clear-cut.