GROUP C comes to a close and it couldn’t be tighter. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) examines the best bets for South Africa’s clash with Ghana.
South Africa v Ghana | Tuesday 18.00 | ITV4
South Africa must win to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals and come up against a Ghanaian team that know a draw could be good enough to progress, should Algeria fail to win. Like all of the final group games at the Nations Cup, the situation is poised perfectly for some nail-biting finales.
Bafana Bafana have arguably been the best team to watch at the tournament. However, one point from two games hasn’t done them justice. A second-half collapse to Algeria in the opener could well cost them their place in the last eight but their battling display against Senegal last time out showed us the character and talent at Shakes Mashaba’s disposal.
South Africa will be without defender Thulani Hlatshwayo but Rivaldo Coetzee faces a late fitness test and could well take his place in the centre of defence. And Mashaba’s been bullish about Bafana’s ability to upset in midweek. This team is motivated and confident in what they can achieve.
A poor record in Nations Cup games (W1-D7-L6) has been mentioned many times but this a new breed of South African football. They’re young, hungry, energetic and intelligent. They’ve been a joy to watch in possession but perhaps they miss the match-winner in the box to really be taken seriously.
Bet365 make Bafana a 14/5 chance to win this match and I’m very tempted. But I’m going to play safe and snap up BetVictor’s 39/40 offer on South Africa +0.25 in the Asian Handicap. We’ll get a full pay-out should Mashaba’s men win but also collect half of our potential full pay-out if the game ends in a draw.
I’ve been largely unimpressed by Ghana. With Avram Grant now in the dugout, they’ve looked a little unorganised (switching between a back three and four) and devoid of any real spark.
Defeat against Senegal was far from a surprise but pinching the points against Algeria with the last kick of the game most certainly was. It was only their fifth win in 16 games and that simply ain't good enough for a nation like Ghana.
Captain Asamoah Gyan’s return was huge boost for the Black Stars as they bid to reach at least the semi-finals for the fifth successive Nations Cup and they boast a fearsome record in AFCON group games too (W9-D2-L2). But something just isn’t right, in my eyes.
Andre Ayew has spoken about the huge pressure on the Ghanaian shoulders to succeed in Equatorial Guinea and it’s fair to say the Black Stars have looked as if they’ve been playing with cement in their pants. Going on the previous two games of both sides, there’s just no way I could be with Ghana at the prices.
I might be taking this as a romantic selection; the South African story is heart-breaking and humbling but their displays in the first two games have been courageous and I’m willing them on in their quest for a knockout place. They've lost just once under Mashaba and so my heart, head and now wallet is backing Bafana to succeed!
South Africa v Ghana – South Africa +0.25 (39/40 BetVictor)