Ghana kicked off the defence of their WAFU Cup of Nations title with a slender 1-0 win over Gambia at Stade Lat Dior in Thies, Senegal, on Tuesday.
The Black Stars started strong and came close to the opening goal in the 10th minute when Joseph Esso unleashed a long-range thunderbolt, but his effort went narrowly wide of the target.
The Gambians offered very little in the way of attack in the first half with their only significant chance coming courtesy of a 22-yard free-kick in the 20th minute, but Gibril Sillah blazed his attempt inches wide.
Ghana continued their dominance after that and were unlucky not to take the lead when a 30-yard shot from Mumuni Shafiu struck the top of the crossbar.
The Black Stars controlled possession in the first 45 but their decision making in the final third let them down as they entered the half-time break goalless.
Seven minutes into the second half defender Said Gaye almost turned the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear a left-wing cross from Ibrahim Moro, but fortunately for the Gambian player his header came off the post.
In the 66th minute the deadlock was finally broken when a low pin-point cross courtesy of Moro was turned home from a six-yards out by Esso.
Ten minutes later Gambia came close to equalising when a long throw-in into the Ghana box found Matarr Ceesay unmarked at the back post, but he headed straight at the keeper from close range. In the 80th minute, the Scorpions were gifted a chance to level matters when the referee awarded a very dubious penalty after adjudging Alhassan Mohammed to have fouled Moudou Cham inside the box. Cham, though, failed to take the golden chance when he struck the penalty, which he had won, against the left post.
Ghana will now progress into the quarterfinals of the Cup competition where they will play Burkina Faso on October 4, while Gambia will take part in the Plate quarterfinals against Mauritania on the same day.