Ghana labour to a 1-0 win over Botswana (Photo: Reuters)
Best player: Modibo Maiga (Mali)
Skillful winger Maiga caught the eye with a lively display as his side claimed a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Guinea.
The Sochaux man set up Bakaye Traore for Mali’s solitary goal when he skipped past his challenger on the right, ran towards the byline and cut the ball back for his teammate to fire home and give his side all three points.
Watch Maiga’s assist
Best goal: Bakaye Traore (Mali)
Traore notched what proved to be the winner on the half hour to gift Mali an opening victory over Guinea.
He fired a powerful right-foot shot from the edge of the area that took a slight deflection off a defender and flew past Guinea’s keeper.
Watch Traore’s goal
Ghana followed in the footsteps of fellow heavyweights Ivory Coast by registering an unconvincing 1-0 victory over minnows Botswana, who were unlucky not to secure a share of spoils.
Despite the presence of promising attacking midfielders Andre and Jordan Ayew, who both play for Marseille in France, the Black Stars looked out-of-sorts and short on creativity as they struggled to feed lone striker Asamoah Gyan.
Their sole goal came through defender and captain John Mensah, who was also sent off in the 66th minute for a professional foul on Jerome Ramatlhakwana as Botswana threatened to equalize.
The other Group D game was a lively affair, with Mali and Guinea moving the ball around well and creating plenty of goal-scoring opportunities.
Catch of the day: Spectacular clearance
An impressive goal-line clearance by Ghana defender John Paintsil prevented Botswana from levelling the score in the 51st minute.
The Leicester City man acrobatically kicked away a header from Botswana’s Moemedi Moatlhaping just when it seemed it would cross the line.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online sports on Twitter: @AO_Sports)