Ghana's qualifying campaign for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) received a temporary jolt after the Black Stars were beaten 1-0 by Kenya in their second group game in Nairobi on Saturday.
A 40th minute own goal by defender Nicholas Opoku handed Kenya their crucial win and a lifeline. The win did not only earn the Harambee Stars their first three points in this qualifying campaign, but it also saw them earn their first win against the Stars in over 15 years.
The Stars could have recovered from the first slip to win the game, but they wasted the chances they created, even when they had the numerical advantage of playing with 11 to 10 men.
Ghana's Christian Atsu avoids a sliding tackle from Kenya's Dennis Odhiambo
Christian Atsu, Raphael Dwamena and Afriyie Acquah, all failed to convert the glorious chances that fell their way during the game.
The two sides took turns to try their luck at goal and it were the Kenyans who had their chance when Opoku accidentally directed into the Stars' net on the 40th minute.
Eric Omondi whipped in cross from the right into the box and Black Stars centre back Nicholas Opoku went into with a sliding clearance but rather saw the ball into his own net.
On the 43rd minute, Ghana had an opportunity to equalise, when they were awarded a freekick, but the resultant kick from Atsu was cleared away.
In the second half, Raphael Dwamena was brought on for Edwin Gyasi and that brought some urgency into the Stars' attack. Unfortunately, the Ghanaians could not take advantage of the chances they created, with Acquah, Atsu and Dwamena all missing either being denied by the woodwork or the goalkeeper.
Kenya were reduced to ten men after Joash Onyango was shown a straight red for a deliberate bringing down Waris in a goal scoring chance when he was at the edge of the box. The resultant free-kick was wasted by Partey.
Kenya's Harambee Stars celebrating their crucial win over Ghana's Black Stars
As Ghana pushed for the equaliser, Kenya also decided to play a tight defence, and began playing unproductive football just to further frustrate their guests and protect their fragile lead. In the end, it proved important.
The Stars' next game will be home to Sierra Leone in October.
Despite the loss, Ghana still lead Group F with three points but that could change depending on the outcome of the other group game between Sierra Leone and Ethiopia in Freetown on Sunday.
Sierra Leone also have three points from their 2-1 win against Kenya on the opening day and another win could see them jump to the top with six points.
Stars: Richard Ofori, Andy Yiadom, Dan Opare, Nicholas Opoku, Daniel Amartey, Afriyie Acquah, Ebenezer Ofori Christian Atsu, Edwin Gyasi/Raphael Dwamena, Thomas Partey, Majeed Waris
Group F standings
Team P W D L GF GA GD PTS
Ghana 2 1 0 1 5 1 4 3
Sa Leone 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 3
Kenya 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 3
Ethiopia 1 0 0 1 0 5 -5 0