Ghana will play Cameroon in Sunday’s final of the African Youth Championship after the Black Satellites beat South Africa 4-3 in fiercely-fought thrilling encounter in Kigali on Wednesday.
Cameroon clinched their place in the final later in the day after brushing Nigeria aside after a 2-0 win in the other semi-final match.
A brace-by Israeli-based striker Ransford Osei helped the Black Satellites to keep their hopes of winning their third continental U-20 trophy.
Ghana were more purposeful from the blast of the whistle as strikers Dominic Adiyiah and Osei signified the country’s determination to reach the final.
Their constant harassing of the South Africans paid off midway through the first-half after Osei left three defenders chasing his shadows before crossing for Adiyiah to tap in from close range.
Osei doubled the Black Satellites lead just before the break through a solo effort.
The Israeli-based striker switched his bag full of tricks to the left, making light work of three defenders, before unleashing a fierce which goalkeeper Ngobeni Thela failed to hold for the first time allowing the forward the chance to pounce.
But the South Africans, who were tipped as one of the favourites of the tournament after seeing off giants Nigeria in the group stage were determined not to be cowed.
A lapse in concentration from the otherwise resolute Ghana defence marshalled by Jonathan Mensah allowed the Amajita to get back into the game when they lost possession for to score after the break.
But captain Andre Dede Ayew restored Ghana’s two goal lead when he took advantage of a sloppy marking by the South African defenders to head home from inside the box for his second goal of the tournament.
Adiyiah returned Osei’s favour moments later when he slalomed past three defenders before the the ball on the path of Osei to crack in his fifth of the tournament and maintain his place as the leading scorer.
Yet again the South Africans were not to be browbeaten into submission as slippery Serero Thulani scored what could be the goal of the tournament to make the score 4-2.
The midfielder spectacularly curled in from 25-yards after dispossessing Gladson Awako as goalkeeper Daniel Agyei diving effort was in vain.
A dodgy penalty decision by Sudanese referee Adbel Gadir Bard in the dying moments of the game handed the South Africans a life-line after Awako was adjudged to have brought an opponent down.
Television replays showed that it was a harsh decision on the Black Satellites.
Thulani converted the effort giving the South Africans the verve to pour in but the tired defenders of Ghana were unyielding.
The match between Cameroon and Nigeria also produced plenty of excitement, with both sides creating many chances.
Jacques Daogari connected with a cross to score from close range on 31 minutes, and Germain Tiko got Cameroon’s second, in the 66th minute, tapping in after a defensive error by Lukman Abdulkarim.
Nigeria had a penalty 10 minutes later, but captain Lukman Haruna hit the post, and there was no way back for the Flying Eagles.
With hosts Rwanda out of the competition, the games were played in front of a small crowd at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.
Nigeria will play South Africa in the third-place play-off on Saturday, a day before the final.
1AGYEI DANIEL,2 INKOOM SAMUEL, 3 AWAKO GLADSON, 4 MENSAH JONATHAN, 5 ADDO DANIEL 6 ADDY DAVID, 8 AGYEMANG EMMANUEL BADU, 10 AYEW ANDRE DEDE, 11 ADIYIAH DOMINIC, 14Ã‚Â DONKOR ISAAC, 18 OSEI RANSFORD
7 ADU ENOCK KOFI, 9 SALIFU LATIF, 12 KASSENU GHANDY, 13 ASIAMAH GODFRED ROCKSON 15Ã‚Â BOAMPONG PHILLIP, 16 ADDO JOSEPH, 17QUANSAH ABEIKU
South Africa line- up: Ã‚Â
4 HILATSHWAYO THULANI, 5 MPHAHLELE RAMAHLWE, 6 MOKOTJO KAMOHELO,7 CLAASEN DYLON, 10 SERERO THULANI, 11 KHWELA PHILANI,12 MASANGO MANDLA, 13 MATUKA THABANG, 14 BHENGU PHUMELELE, 16 NGOBENI THELA, 17 MALULEKA GEORGE
1 PULE BOALEFA, 2 NYAFOZA SIPHO, 3 COETZEE COLDRIN, 8 MORTON MICHAEL 9 NGCEPE THULANE, 15 SONDHLANE BONGANI, 16 NGOBENI THELA, 17 MALULEKA GEORGE, 18 NYANDA MDUDUZI