Pretoria — The Black Stars of Ghana have inched closer to their target in the search for their first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title since 1982.
The Black Stars managed to beat Mali 1-0 in an Afcon Group B match played at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Thursday.
Taking advantage of their dominance, Ghana took the lead when they were awarded a penalty nine minutes from half time after Mali defender Adama Tamboura brought down Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu in the box.
Mubarak Wakaso made no mistake and netted in the Black Stars' solitary yet crucial goal.
Ghana's win today places them in a better position to advance to the quarter finals, provided that they secure at least a draw in their next match against Niger on Sunday.
Both coaches had made three changes from their previous matches.
Mali should have been a man up in the first half after Ghana goal keeper Fatau Dauda touched the ball outside the 18 area. He was lucky to walk away with a yellow card.
Mali players will also be frustrated to realise that they missed an early opportunity when they were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area in the ninth minute, but Seydou Keita's shot narrowly missed the goal.
Though not entirely impressive, Ghana continued their first half dominance into the second half.
Wakaso received a yellow card in the 39th minute followed by Mahamadou Bamba N'Diaye and then Mohammed Rabiu.
Although The Eagles went to the game enjoying the first place spot in Group B with three points, they showed no sense of urgency and in the end they were punished by the Ghanaians.
It was the two sides' 13th meeting, with Ghana winning five of those and Mali three.