Ghana held by understrength South Africa

Ghana held by understrength South Africa

Published Jan. 15, 2012 6:08 p.m. ET

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.