Ten-man Ghana got their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations campaign underway with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Botswana in Franceville on Tuesday.
Captain John Mensah got the only goal of the game when he bundled in the opener on 25 minutes.
But the France-based defender was sent off in the second-half which led to some anxious moments for Ghana later in the game.
Mensah reacted quickly to bundle the ball home from close range after Emmanuel Agyemang Badu’s corner kick failed to find Asamoah Gyan’s head.
Gyan could have doubled the Black Stars lead just before the break when he beat his two markers but his shot from the edge of the box went just wide.
The Zebras returned from the interval and did away with their ultra-defensive style of play which caused some anxious moments for Ghana.
A classic acrobatic goal-line clearance from man-of-the-match John Boye prevented the southern Africans from drawing level after Mongala Phenyo’s header left Adam Kwarasey with no chance.
Ghana responded immediately with Andre Ayew decieving his three markers but his shot was blocked by rough tackling defender Ramobihidu Mosimanegape.
The Zebras continued with their pressure on the Black Stars and when Masahudu Alhassan mistakenly headed into the path of Phenyo but John Mensah had no option but to foul him at the edge of the box.
The Ghana captain was sent off for the professional foul on the last man that left Ghana with ten players with several minutes of play left.
But quick changes with Jonathan Mensah coming on to fortify the defence helped the Black Stars to secure the win in their opening game. GFA