Black of Stars of Ghana needed an 83rd minute strike from debutante Caleb Ekuban to edge gallant Harambee Stars 1-0 and finish top of Group “F” in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at Accra Sports club on Saturday.
The Turkey-based Ekuban, who replaced Alhassan Wakaso on 59 minutes, struck home a low drive past Kenyan custodian Patrick Matasi after being played through by Thomas Partey.
Matasi will however live to forget the manner in which he conceded the goal. Ekuban's shot slipped through his arms before finding the back of the net, after the Kenyans seemed headed for a historic draw which would have ensured they remain top of the standings.
Ghana finish top of the group on nine points, two ahead of Sebastien Migne's Kenya. The goal heart broke the Kenyans who had put up a plausible performance away from home.
Mubarak Wakaso floated in a cross from the left but Patrick Matasi gathered with two minutes into the game as the hosts went all out from the onset.
Two minutes later, Eric Johanna’s shot from outside the box was parried by Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori with Francis Kahata unable to pounce on the rebound on time.
Atletico Madrid midfielder Partey shot over the bar from a free-kick from 25 yards after Joash Onyango had brought down Jordan Ayew in the seventh minute.
The Black Stars thought to have taken the lead on 33 minutes through Andre Ayew but Botswana referee Joshua Bondo ruled it out for a foul on Matasi.
Kwadwo Asamoah swung in a free kick from the left flank but Nicholas Opoku’s header veered off the target as the Kenyans survived another scare in the first half.
A minute after the restart, Matasi found Masoud Juma with a long range pass that the Libya-based forward charged down to force Ghana shot-stopper Richard Ofori into a fingertip save with a rasping pile driver.
Pistone Mutamba, who came on for Masoud on 59 minutes, won possession with his first touch at the hour mark to put Eric Johanna through on goal but the Sweden-based midfielder wasn’t quick enough before Ofori gathered the ball with ease.
Bondo then booked Erick “Marcelo” Ouma for a cynical foul on Kwadwo Asamoah on 56 minutes and 10 minutes later, Matasi followed suit for time wasting.
Christian Atsu managed to break the Kenya defence on 73 minutes but his low effort went inches wide.
Harambee Stars lineup: Patrick Matasi (GK), Philemon Otieno (Paul Were 86’), Musa Mohammed, Joash Onyango, Eric Ouma, Victor Wanyama (C), Dennis Odhiambo, Eric Johanna (Bernard Ochieng 76’), Francis Kahata, Johanna Omollo, Masud Juma (Piston Mutamba 59’)
Unused Substitutes: John Oyemba (GK), Faruk Shikalo (GK), David Owino, Brian Mandela, Anthony Akumu, Ismail Gonzalez, Allan Wanga
Black Stars lineup: Richard Ofori (GK), Daniel Opare, Nicholas Opoku, John Boye, Lumor Agbenyenu - Mubarak Wakaso (Caleb Ekuban 60’), Thomas Partey, Christian Atsu, Kwadwo Asamoah - Andre Ayew (Joseph Aidoo 86’), Jordan Ayew (Emmanuel Boateng’ 76’)