It was a rough start to the Africa Cup of Nations for Ghana, pegged by many as favourites to win the whole thing, but the Black Stars pulled through against an impressive Botswana side - despite going down to ten men in the second half - and came away with a 1-0 win.
Botswana were obviously away that they couldn't compete with Ghana in a pure shootout and opted to play very deep, setting up a tight, organised defence and forcing their illustrious opponents to go wide. It looked as though they had things covered in open play, but set pieces are the bane of a tight defensive scheme and when Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu' corner was flicked on by former Sunderland man Asamoah Gyan, it was simplicity itself for John Mensah to stab home at the far post.
Botswana, who had offered zero attack before the goal looked equally disinclined to force matters afterwards. It took until the second half for them to mount a meaningful foray forward, but they nearly scored with their first attack of the game after Moemedi Moatlhaping headed back across goal with Adam Larsen nowhere to be found. Jerome Ramathlakwane was on hand to knock home at the far post only for the ball to be intercepted virtually on the line via a spectacular overhead kick by centre back John Boye.
Ghana weren't out of the woods yet, as fifteen minutes later Mensah was sent for an early bath after bringing down Jerome as the striker looked to bear down on goal after being released by an awful Anthony Annan backpass. Mensah had little choice but to commit the professional foul on the edge of the area, but it was a clear red card offence and the Black Stars had to see out the rest of the match with ten men.
With Botswana seemingly holding the advantage, it was time for the individual skill of Ghana's players to shine through. Both Gyan and Andre Ayew did spectacular jobs of holding up the ball and burning time as their team tried to chew up the clock, and Ghana actually looked more comfortable with ten men than they did eleven. There were some nervy moments, of course, but when the smoke cleared the score was still 1-0.