Ghana became the first country to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

Ghana’s Derek Baoteng (R) gets a yellow card for an infringement against China during their football friendly match in Xian, China’s Shaanxi province on August 15, 2012. Ghana and China drew 1-1.

Ghana became the first country to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when beating Malawi 1-0 in Lilongwe on Saturday afternoon.

The Black Stars braved the intimidating crowd and bumpy pitch at the Civo Stadium to clinch their ticket with an early goal from debutant Afriyie Acquah.

Ghana thus reach their 19th Africa Cup of Nations after clinching the 3-0 aggregate win following their victory over the Flames in the first-leg in Accra last month.

The visitors hit the ground running on three minutes with a well-worked goal.

Andre Ayew and Christian Atsu combined to set up the Italy-based youngster who fired in from close range for his first goal in his first start for the Black Stars.

But it was not a stroll in the park for the four-time champions as the Flames fought back pinning the Black Stars to their half before the break.

Slippery strikers Jospehy Kamwendo and Esau Kanyenda took advantage of the effective passes from midfielders Robert Ng’ambi and Chimango Kayira to cause some anxious moments for the Black Stars.

The Flames midfield duo outmuscled Anthony Annan and Acquah in the Ghana midfield creating opportunities for their strikers on several occasions.

But on the few occasions that Kamwendo and Kanyenda got to the goal area of the Black Stars they found the central defensive pair of Isaac Vorsah and John Vorsah in excellent form.

That allowed goalkeeper Isaac Kwarasey to be on a holiday with the Norway-based shot stopper saving some harmless efforts at goal.

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah made a raft of changes to fortify his midfield after the break with Ayew making way for TP Mazembe bound Daniel Nii Adjei while Espanyol star Mubarak Wakaso took the place of Acquah with Abdul Majeed Waris coming on for Rabiu Mohammed.

Flames coach Kinnah Phiri also responded with some changes as Steve Chagoma made way for Chiukepo Msowoya while Robin Ngalande took the place of Kanyenda.

They shored up midfield of Ghana as they withstood the constant attacks from the Flames and were able to hold on for the victory that seals them a ticket to the Nations Cup in South Africa next year.

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