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26.01.2015 Sports News

Black Stars versus Bafana Bafana- Three key battles

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South Africa and Ghana are set to battle for a place in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations when they meet in their final Group C match on Tuesday night.

These three personal duels could go a long way in determining the outcome of the match at Estadio de Mongomo.

Andre Ayew v Anele Ngcongca
With Ghana successfully switching to a 4-4-2 formation for their win over Algeria, they are likely to stick with the same line-up for the match against South Africa and that means Andre Ayew will again find himself in a less favoured position out on the left wing. It is not the ideal platform from which the 25-year-old can show his full array of skills, but he is a danger down the flank nonetheless. The man tasked with keeping an eye on the Marseille star will be right-back Anele Ngconga. The experienced Belgium-based defender has the speed and athleticism to deny Ayew space in behind the defence, but he will also have to work hard to cut down on the Ghanaian's crosses and ensure he isn't able to cut inside and exchange passes with his forwards.

Asamoah Gyan v Erick Mathoho
Asamoah Gyan made a triumphant return to the Ghana team after recovering from a bout of Malaria. He scored the last-gasp winner against Algeria which has put the Black Stars back in the hunt to qualify for the quarterfinals. The veteran striker had a tough time trying to shake off Carl Medjani through the course of the match, but his persistence paid dividends when he finally evaded the Algerian centre-back in stoppage time to net the only goal. South Africa's Erick Mathoho will have to go the extra distance that Medjani did not if he is to quell the threat of Gyan. The Kaizer Chiefs defender, nicknamed 'Tower' has been excellent throughout Bafana's resurgence under coach Shakes Mashaba, though he was at fault for Senegal's equaliser in the 1-1 draw on Friday night, allowing Kara Mbodj to out-jump him from a simple set piece. He cannot afford such a mistake against a striker of Gyan's abilities.

Sibusiso Vilakazi v Jonathan Mensah
South Africa's attack at the 2015 AFCON has at times looked sensational, with the speed of their passing and movement often overwhelming defences. However, they have lacked a ruthlessness upfront that would otherwise surely have secured positive results against Algeria and Senegal. Sibusiso Vilakazi has been at the heart of much of Bafana's best play, with his vision, precision passing and intelligent movement causing a nightmare for defenders. Ghana will need Jonathan Mensah, a player who made his name in South Africa with Free State Stars, to be at his best in his duel with 'Vila'. The South African will look to positon himself between Ghana's midfield and defence, making him difficult to pick up for Mensah, who must use all his experience and concentration to ensure Vilakazi doesn't suddenly show up unmarked in the danger zone.

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