South African goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto celebrates with teammates after winning a penalty shootout against Ghana which also booked their place at the 2020 Olympics at Tokyo in Japan. Photo: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

CAIRO – South Africa will join Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after winning the bronze medal match 6-5 on against Ghana at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday evening.

At the end of full-time, the teams were tied at 2-all and the dreaded penalty shoot-out was needed to separate the teams in the Total Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations third-place play-off match. 

South Africa secured their place Olympics berth for the third time in their history and their second successive after Rio 2016. 

Ghana’s Habib Mohamed scored an own goal in the 15th minute to give South Africa an early lead. Habib tried to stop Luther Singh’s cross but he wrongly turned it into his net.

The South Africans had the upper hand through the opening half but wasted many chances to double their lead as the teams went to the break with 1-0 lead for the SA side.

Ghana returned much stronger, and five minutes after the break they equalized. Evans Mensah held on to a pass just outside the penalty area and sent a curling shot to beat South Africa’s goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto.

But the South Africans responded immediately. The substitute Kamohelo Mhlatsi who barely spent a minute on the pitch restored their lead, when after Lyle Foster’s pass to unleashed a scorcher into the Ghanaian net.

And when it looked all set for South Africa’s win, Ghana scored a late equalizer. Evans Mensah rounded his marker and sent a cross that fell to substitute Samuel Obeng. He made no mistake and scored five minutes from time. 

The game went directly to a penalty shootout to determine the winner.

The shootout saw both sides missing twice, before South Africa’s goalkeeper Mpoto saved Michael Agbekpornu kick to give his side the Tokyo ticket. 

African News Agency (ANA)