Injury-hit Ghana have qualified for the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations with a 1-0 win over 10-man Burkina Faso 1-0 on Tuesday.
The World Cup qualifiers and four-time continental champions will now face hosts Angola on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals.
After their opening 3-1 defeat to favourites Ivory Coast this was a must-win game for Ghana, who face the Socceroos in the World Cup in South Africa in June, if they weren’t to be sent home in disgrace.
And Andre Ayew, son of one of Africa’s most decorated players, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, earned them the three points with the decisive first-half goal and the runners-up spot in Group B behind table toppers and fellow World Cup qualifiers Ivory Coast.
Ghana suffered a major eve-of-match blow with Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien’s having to pull out with a right knee injury picked up in training on Sunday – though he was on hand to watch, from the stands, his team-mates triumph.
Serb coach Milovan Rajevac, who made four changes from the side that fell 3-1 to Ivory Coast, had already suffered a raft of injuries to key members of his squad.
Burkina Faso only required a draw to see them go through after a tight defensive strategy had harvested one point in their goalless opener against Ivory Coast.
Burkina Faso marginally had the better of a forgettable first half hour that lacked punch until the 30th minute when Ghana’s Bayer Leverkusen defender Hans Adu Sarpei conjured up a perfect 35m cross from the right flank for Ayew to head sharply past keeper Daouda Diakite.
Sarpei picked up a yellow card shortly after for a late challenge on Jonathan Pitroipa to add to the three already dished out by Seychelles referee Eddy Maillet to Burkina Faso’s Mamadou Tall, Pitriopa and Mady Panandetiguiri.
Burkina Faso emerged for the second half knowing they had to accomplish something they had failed to do in Angola up to now – namely score – if they and not Ghana were to progress.
Ghana however remained firmly in control and on 66 minutes Burkina Faso were down a man as Maillet red-carded defender Mamadou Tall for a challenge on Asamoah Gyan.
Draman almost extended Ghana’s lead with quarter of an hour remaining but his shot came to rest in the near post’s side netting.