The Black Meteors triumphed 5-3 on penalties after a largely dull game to hand Ghana her first ever gold at this level and boost the credentials of coach Kwesi Appiah and local coaches after a string of high profile failures.
The competition in Maputo looked to be heading in the same direction after their opening day 1-0 defeat to South Africa.
AmaGlug-glug seemed to be heading for another victory on Saturday until Ghana was handed a dubious lifeline from the penalty spot in the last minute of regulation time.
Riaan Eugene of Santos put South Africa ahead with a looping effort on 84 minutes but Ghana responded when they were handed a spot kick in the final minute of regulation time after Gilbert Fiamenyo is adjudged to have been brought down illegally. TV replays showed the South Africa defender got clean contact with the ball and not the man.
It did not matter because Accra Hearts of Oak striker Mahatma Otoo kept calm to draw the Meteors level.
The Meteors showed collective steel in the ensuing shootout too. Otoo converted the first well and after South Africa missed their second kick, goalkeeper Daniel Agyei scored before saving South Africa's fourth.
And when Ahmed Adams calmly converted Ghana's fourth kick, the Black Meteors celebrated a fine turn around.
It is a result that will give the country's local coaches a breather. Failure to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, the U-20 World Championships, the African U-17 event and the miserable showing at the Championships of African Nations left their reputation in tatters.
And while the quality of the competition of the All Africa Games means no over the top conclusions can be drawn from it, Kwesi Appiah knows he has scored decisive points for colleagues and their bid to repair their battered image.