Ghana held by understrength South Africa

Ghana’s African Cup of Nations hopefuls were held to a 1-1 draw

by an understrength South Africa in a training match on Sunday.

South Africa took a surprise lead in the seventh minute at Royal

Bafokeng stadium when Thami Sangweni caught out goalkeeper Adam

Kwarasey with a long-range shot.

Ghana equalized five minutes later through Inter Milan

midfielder Sulley Muntari’s looping effort from outside the penalty

area.

Despite dominating possession, Ghana’s Black Stars couldn’t

force a win against a Bafana Bafana team missing many leading

players, who weren’t released by their clubs because the fixture

wasn’t a full international.

Ghana had a late goal by substitute Prince Tagoe ruled out for

offside, but the team predicted to launch a strong challenge for

the African Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea failed to hit top

gear. South Africa hasn’t qualified for the continental

championship.

”We had a good training match,” said Ghana assistant coach

Kwesi Appiah. ”For us, it gave us what we needed, tactically,

attacking (wise) and defensively.”

Muntari, Lyon defender John Mensah, Dnipro midfielder Derek

Boateng and brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew of Marseille all started

for Ghana. Striker Asamoah Gyan wasn’t involved as he continued his

recovery from a hamstring injury.

Coach Goran Stevanovic made a string of changes in the second

half, with Tagoe, Daniel Opare, Jonathan Mensah, Hoffenheim’s Isaac

Vorsah and Kwadwo Asamoah of Udinese among a host of players coming

on for the four-time African champion.

Ghana’s African Cup opener is against Botswana on Jan. 24. The

team has one more warmup match at its training camp in South Africa

this week, against local club side Platinum Stars, before departing

for Gabon.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Football Association said that Gyan

returned to full training on Saturday after being treated by

Serbian physiotherapist Marijana Kovacevic, who gained fame in 2009

for advocating the use of horse placenta to treat football

injuries.

Kovacevic is part of Ghana’s medical staff for the African

Cup.

Ghana’s FA said Gyan underwent three hours of treatment

administered by Kovacevic on Friday, but didn’t say what the

treatment involved.

”His (Gyan’s) recovery is quicker than the four-week layoff

diagnosed by doctors,” the GFA said after doubts that the key

forward, who was injured at the start of this month, would be fit

in time for the start of the continental championship.