Black Stars of Ghana
Ghana secured a comfortable 1-0 victory over the Hawks of Togo with debutant Bernard Mensah announcing his presence with a well taken goal.
The Stars began the game with a high tempo with striker Majeed Waris who was preferred to Asamoah Gyan and Jordan Ayew connecting with a tailor measured cross from Baba Rahman but Togolese goalkeeper Cedric Mensah was equal to the task.
The Togolese mastered their own attack albeit through a corner kick but goalkeeper Fatau Dauda will have none of that with a clean catch to sniff out the danger.
The moment of the half however came in the 36th minute when Bernard Mensah picked up a ball from just outside the penalty area with little danger but was allowed enough time to pick up his sport and drill in a shot that left Togolese goalkeeper Cedric Mensah with little chance.
The goal brought life into the game and Waris could have doubled the lead but Togolese defender Djan Dakonam was alive to the situation.
The Ghanaian technical team were a given a scare when winger Frank Acheampong visited the deck but after some attention he got back to his feet to continue.
With both sides finding it difficult to fashion out chances Referee Shaibu Abdulaihi brought the first half to an end.
The second half saw Stars coach Avram Grant effect three changes from onset Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp were introduced for Waris, Acheampong and Rabiu Mohammed.
The Stars still dominated the proceedings but Togolese head coach Saintfiet tried to effect play with the introduction Kossivi for Gakpe Seroe and the change nearly yielded result. A wonderful strike from Kossivi was tipped off by Fatau Dauda that hit the woodwork.
Grant introduced Skipper Gyan, Afriyie Acqauh and Adomah into the game with goalscorer Bernard Mensah, Christian Atsu all going out.
But the changes only stabilized the Ghana?s dominance but not goals. Midfielder Mubarak Wakaso was sent for an early shower after elbowing Togolese midfielder Kosovi.
The red meant Togo were handed a man advantage but failed to make use of it as Ghana goalkeeper Fatau Dauda produced his most convincing performance in recent times to close out the game.
Referee Abdulahi added an extra two minutes to the 90 minutes played but both sides failed to take full advantage of the time added and the game ultimately ended 1-0 in favor of the Ghanaian