Bloemfontein - A 34th minute Theophilus Anobaah winner has helped Ghana edge out Congo Brazzaville 1-0 in a Group C 2014 African Nations Championship (Chan) match played at the Free State Stadium, on Monday evening.
It was mission accomplished for one of the pre-tournament favourites, although Ghana missed several excellent chances to take the game beyond Congo, who also wasted their share of opportunities.
The Black Stars just about shaded what was an entertaining and open first half, although it was the team from central Africa which enjoyed the upper hand initially.
In the fourth minute, the lively and impressive Obassi Ngatsong nearly caught out Ghana keeper Stephen Adams with a shot on the run from 35-yards out, before Hardy Binguila saw his volley deflected just wide of goal two minutes later.
Ghana's first real chance came on 10 minutes when Asante Kotoko striker Mohammed Yahaya struck a thunderous free kick which was punched to safety by an uncertain looking Congo keeper Kiwoko Mouyaki.
More chances followed for the west Africans as Sulley Nuru horribly miscued an effort from just eight yards out, while Yahaya had a shot blocked.
The pressure paid off for Ghana in the 34th minute when Anobaah cut inside from the right wing, his shot deflecting off Ngouna Moubhio and into the net.
The goal spurred Congo back into action and they came close to equalising five minutes later when AC Leopards defender Moubhio had his close range shot at the back post somehow saved by Adams. The resultant set-piece ended with Magnokele Bissiki having his corner cleared off the line by a defender.
A minute later Congo were even closer to scoring when Ghanaian defender Joshua Tijani headed the ball onto his own upright.
The second half went much the way of the first - both sides having plenty of moments in front of goal, but failing to find a clinical edge as chances were spurned.
Congo striker Carim Mabiala was guilty of two missed chances, while at the other end, Yahaya and Sulley Mohammed both wasted great chances, wanting far too much time with the goal beckoning in front of them.
The final 15 minutes of the match produced little goalmouth action, the match deteriorating into a stop-start affair as substitutions were made regularly.