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Nations Cup Day 4 as it happened

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LATEST ACTION AS IT HAPPENS (ALL TIMES GMT)

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GROUP D:

Ghana 1-0 Botswana (FT)
Mali 1-0 Guinea (FT)

By Piers Edwards

2100: That's all for tonight but at long last, we've seen all 16 teams in action at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations and this competition is still wide open. No one has yet to really drag the tournament by the scruff of the neck and make any real statement but eight teams are delighted with their start - and eight more will feel they have work to do. When was the last time a Nations Cup began without a draw in the opening round? I'll endeavour to have an answer by the time we return for tomorrow's second round of Group A matches. Libya vs Zambia to kick us off, followed by co-hosts Equatorial Guinea looking for their second win of the tournament against Senegal's wounded Teranga Lions in Bata tomorrow. See you then - and thanks for following the action.

2054: Black Stars fan Nana might not be sleeping easily tonight. Despite Ghana's 1-0 win earlier today, he's worried by the threat posed by Mali ahead of the two teams' next match on Saturday. "Mali will worry Ghana - great game," he texts.

2052: Mali's Seydou Keita rubs his face in pure relief as his side earns a slender but crucial 1-0 win over West African rivals Guinea. Bakaye Traore grabbed the all-important goal after half an hour as his powerful effort was deflected in past Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara. The Guineans had their moments though, most notably when Ibrahima Diallo might have won a penalty and when Ismael Bangoura carved open the Malian defence only to shoot straight at the Mali goalkeeper.

2051: FULL-TIME Mali 1-0 Guinea

2048: Two minutes to go - and after slow but patient build-up from Guinea, the ball presents itself to Feindouno. His well-struck left-footed effort is straight at Diakite who tips over for a corner. Still Mali hold on despite the pressure, but whenever Guinea get behind the Malians there's not enough movement from their strikers.

2047: Into the last minute and Mali's fans are drumming and chanting with ever greater conviction. Their charges, despite their troubled build-up, are just moments away from a vital opening win. All eyes on the fourth official who holds up his board to signal four additional minutes.

2043: More excellent defending by Mali as a block comes in to halt a flowing Guinea move. From the corner, Bobo Balde rises high but can't make any connection. Just as Mali's Modibo Maiga, who has been quiet tonight, prepares to break free on the coutner-attack, the referee stops play to allow a Malian player to recover after taking a full-blooded shot on the chest from close range.

2042: Mali coach Alain Giresse prepares to shut up shop as defensively-minded Ousmane Couliably replaces Drissa Diakite. Has the door been locked and bolted, or is there still a glimmer of hope for Guinea? Seydou Keita, meanwhile, is hobbling after being the victim of another clattering.

2040: Inside the Stade de Franceville, the BBC's Farayi Mungazi reports that Guinea's "fans are now totally silent but the Malian contigent is getting louder as full-time approaches. Guinea squad players very animated in the stands." Into the last seven minutes...

2036: Sadio Diallo is Guinea's final change as Habib Balde goes off. From a free-kick in a dangerous position, Feindouno guides a curling effort towards the top right-hand corner but Diakite takes it comfortably. Perfect range for Feindouno but his strike lacked conviction. It's still one-way traffic in Franceville, with Guinea pushing hard to find that one golden chance against Mali's Eagles.

2032: Abdoul Camara stretches the Mali defence again but he can't find a colleague up front. Seconds later Ibrahima Diallo charges deep into the box but perhaps takes one touch too many, getting too close to the byeline as Mali defenders smother the danger. Diallo's ball inside finds a yellow shirt, but better quality from Guinea as they to find an equaliser.

2031: Samba Sow comes on for Mali in place of Samba Diakite. As Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer patrols his area, Sow is immediately in the thick of the action as he charges in to repel a Guinean attack.

2029: Mali win only their second corner of the night (to Guinea's six) but it flies harmlessly long.

2027: Feindouno's resulting free-kick deflects behind for a corner, which is comfortably cleared by Mali's defence. Moments later, Feindouno breaks free from midfield again and with Mali slow to offer a tackle, he lets fly from 25 yards but can't keep his strike down or on target. A man with eight Nations Cup goals to his name knows he can do better than that.

2025: Mali's Mahamadou N'Diaye also goes into the book as he catches Guinea midfielder Ibrahima Traore, who has looked really good tonight. The Stuttgart man is full of running, with good pace and a good touch.

2023: Subs are involved everywhere. Dembele suddenly has the freedom of the Stade de Franceville as he runs clear on Guinea goal. But Naby Yattara charges out of his area to dispossess Dembele, leaping in with both feet it must be said, and eventually the danger is cleared. Samba Diakite earns a yellow for Mali as he kicks the ball away.

2022: Another great move from Guinea. Ousmane Barry, who's just come on, just fails to connect as he dives to meet fellow sub Razzagui Camara's excellent cross that flashes across the six-yard box with Malian stopper Diakite taken out of the game.

2020: The substitutions are coming on thick and fast. Now it's Mali coach Alain Giresse's turn to change things around bringing on Garra Dembele, Papiss Demba Cisse's old partner at Freiburg, for Diabate. Dembele joined Freiburg last summer after a mixed spell in Bulgaria. Although excellent on the pitch, he courted controversy off it as he faced drink-driving charges.

2018: Another change as Ismael Bangoura's night is also over for the Guineans. Ousmane Barry is on in his place.

2014: Abdoul Razzagui Camara is on and Alhassane Bangoura's night is over. The Rayo Vallecano youngster looks dismayed but Camara will be a relieved man after all the uncertainty over whether he would receive his clearance in time. Such matters are over now and now he's got the chance to impress his new fans with what he can do. Half an hour to play and Mali yet to fashion a chance of note in this second period.

2010: Another break in play as Cheick Tidiane Diabate is caught by Bobo Balde's high foot. Both players are off the ground but Diabate was still caught above the thigh. No yellow card though for the Guinean centre-back. Diabate trudges off to the side of the pitch, where Abdoul Razzagui Camara is warming up for Guinea - and perhaps just moments away from his Guinea debut. The former France youth international recently received Fifa clearance to play for the West Africans. Diabate is back on.

2007: Well, if you were watching this game and knew little about both teams, you'd struggle to pick out the Barcelona player. Seydou Keita has been very quiet so far, happy to keep things ticking over in midfield, but he'll be a happy man - having spoken of the need to lead Mali's youngsters through this tournament. 1-0 his team lead but there's still a long way to go, and Guinea are refusing to go quietly. The Syli Nationale are constantly stretching the Malian defence, where captain Cedric Kante is a busy man.

2005: Excellent harrying from Guinea breaks up Mali's spell of possession and just when it looks as though Bangoura will be freed, the Eagles defence steps up to catch him offside.

2003: Bangoura is instantly on the attack once again, this time driving low and hard at the Mali goal with his left foot. Good strike but straight at Diakite who stoops low to smother the ball.

2001: The teams are back out on the pitch, and Guinea get the second half underway. No changes as yet.

1947: The half-time whistle blows, with Mali leading 1-0 thanks to Bakaye Traore's 30th-minute strike. Slightly harsh on Guinea though who have had excellent chances, with Ismael Bangoura almost drawing them level, and who were denied what seemed a clear penalty. Malian fans will argue that Guinea should be down to 10 men though after Bobo Balde seemed to pull down Diabate as the half drew to a close.

1945: Another controversial incident at the end of the half. Mali's Cheick Tidiane Diabate wriggles free of Guinea's Bobo Balde who appears to pull the striker down. On the edge of the box and with Diabate boasting a definite goalscoring opportunity, that could easily have been a red card for Balde. Yet to see a good replay, but also a potential penalty.

1944: Feindouno delivers a free-kick deep into the box which Zayatte, not for the first time, manages to get something on. He can't get over it though and the ball loops harmlessly over.

1943: Nearing the end of the half and Guinea still forcing the play and trying to find what would be a deserved equaliser. Three minutes to go to the break.

1941: Another great chance for Guinea as Lass Bangoura, who's not the tallest, gets up well to head over a corner from six yards out. Did well to climb so high but could he have done better? Either way, Mali are lucky to be ahead in this game - having taken their only real chance so far, with the help of a deflection of course.

1939: Was that a penalty? Guinea's Ibrahima Diallo goes past Mahamadou N'diaye just inside the corner of the penalty area and is brought down. The balls runs away from him but it was foul nonetheless. However, the key man on the pitch - Tunisia's Slim Jedidi - didn't see it that way and booked Diallo for simulation. Looked a penalty on first glance. Harsh.

1934: Ismael Bangoura almost scores one of the goals of the tournament for Guinea after a mazy run. Picking up the ball midway through the Mali half, he jinks inside one, cuts past another on the D and as the space opens up, Diakite comes out to smother the danger. Good goalkeeping but great skills from Bangoura - heavily linked with Bolton Wanderers these last few days.

1932: The handbags instantly come out as tempers flare. After they settle down, Mamadou Bah puts his right foot to better use (see 1912), but his low 16-yard strike is well blocked and the danger clears.

1931: After Modibo Maiga breaks free down the byeline, he cuts the ball back which eventually finds Bakaye Traore on the edge of the box. He leathers an effort at goal that deflects in off a defender to leave Naby Yattara grasping at air in the Guinean goal. Cue the celebrations on the edge of the pitch as Mali's players dange a little jig.

1930: GOAL! Mali 1-0 Guinea

1928: Ayman in the UK texts in. "Guinea is the black horse. Guinea have very strong side." I think you might mean 'dark horse'! They're looking good so far, especially when Feindouno and Bangoura find some space, but this is a close affair in Franceville and the teams look evenly-matched so far. If anything, Guinea shading it - but by the slightest or margins.

1926: Well, there was an excellent example of why Alhassane 'Lass' Bangoura is so highly-rated. He disposses Mali in his own half, before sprinting up the other end, and hitting an arrowing shot that slams into the side-netting from just outside the box. Good pace, very direct and meaty strike. Hard to believe he's just 19 - but a warning for Mali.

1925: Excellent defending from Zayatte, blocking Tamboura's seemingly-certain left-wing cross, gives Mali their first corner of the game. Dianbobo Balde - that rock of the Guinean defence for so many years - heads away, not for the first time at a Nations Cup. 36-years-old, the former Celtic star is winding down his football in the second tier of French football but is still as imposing as ever.

1922: Mali's Seydou Keita has a first sight of goal with a free-kick in a very central position 25-30 yards from goal. His effort is disappointing though, lacking any height, and slamming straight into the wall. The local Gabonese fans watching inside, and many Malians back home, expect better.

1921: The trumpets are blowing loud and clear in Franceville and it's still very even in this second Group D game of the Nations Cup. But Guinea are enjoying the better of it in the latter minutes. As I write, Balde has the ball in the net after Zayatte heads a corner against the bar, but the whistle had already gone long before - presumably for the ball going out of play before swinging back in.

1918: Best chance of the match so far. Sharp free-kick from Guinea is swung in to the back post, where Bangoura gets up high, heading the ball across goal, and forcing a solid save from Soumeyla Diakite in the Mali goal. Second corner of the game to Guinea.

1916: Free-kick to Mali in a dangerous position. Traore swings it in and the ball drops some 30 yards out before being hit hopelessly over from long distance.

1914: While play is held up in Franceville, for a knock to the Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara, Brian has texted in from Dublin. "No vuvuzelas, loving the drums and trumpets though."

1912: Mamadou Bah is deservedly booked for a very high foot which catches Seydou Keita, of Barcelona fame if you need reminding, near his head. The Stuttgart midfielder can have no complaints but Keita is fine and back on his feet. The Barca man is certainly not being given the freedom and space he enjoys at the Camp Nou.

1911: Great pace from Pascal Feindouno to latch onto Zayatte's long pass, and the wideman earns Guinea the first corner of the match. It comes to nothing though as Mali clear their lines at the near post. "This being a West African derby - it's going to be tight," says Ruben in Uganda. "Mali has a slim margin, but I will settle for a score draw."

1909: It's calmed down in Franceville after that fizzing first minute. Both teams are trying to settle down, with neither able to claim anything like supremacy so far.

1905: I'm not sure if any Newcastle fans are watching but Modibo Maiga is out on the pitch, so he'll provide a glimpse of what might have been. His proposed move fell through because of doubts over the condition of his knees. Another man to keep an eye on is Guinea youngster Alhassane Bangoura, who plays for Real Vallecano in Spain and has already been linked with Real Madrid. A time for this youngster to show what the growing fuss is all about.

1901: What a start. Mali fly forward to launch an attack, which comes to nothing, before Diakite is tested in the Mali goal with a fierce 25-yarder from Ibrahima Traore.

1900: We're underway in Franceville as Mali kick off. Can either side tonight force a two-goal win to take them above Ghana at the top of Group D on its opening day?

1859: Mali line-up: Soumaila Diakite, Adama Tamboura, Cedric Kante (capt), A. Traore, Diabate, Modibo Maiga, Seydou Keita, D. Diakite, B. Traore, Samba Diakite, N'diaye

1858: Inside the Franceville stadium, the BBC's Farayi Mungazi does finally have the line-ups. Guinea: Yattara, Feindouno, D. Bah, B. Balde, Zayatte (capt), I. Traore, Bangoura, L. Bah, Diallo, A. Bangoura, H. Balde.

1856: And now for Guinea's anthem. They are playing in white tonight, captained by Kamil Zayatte (Hull City fans, remember him?), with Pascal Feindouno looking particularly stern as the music sounds.

1854: The teams are out - and the national anthem of Mali is playing out across the Franceville stadium. Mali captain Cedric Kante puts his hands on his heart, and on his very yellow jersey. Some strip from the Eagles.

1850: Fabio in Madagascar texts in to say - "No draw at the finals yet - that's unique. I will only start watching the last 16 though because group games are usually boring." Fabio, you clearly missed Mali's opener at the last finals. 4-0 down to hosts Angola with just over 10 minutes to play, the Eagles forced an astonishing 4-4 draw - with two of their goals coming in added time.

1846: Mali, meanwhile, are set to bring a newlook team to the finals. No Momo Sissoko (who also asked to be excused), nor former Real Madrid man Mahamadou Diarra while Frederic Kanoute retired after the 2010 finals in Angola. Coach Alain Giresse, yes, the Frenchman of 1984 European Championship fame, is at the helm but he's endured a troubled build-up. Two of his squad were ruled out with injury within the last week, forcing him to draft in Ousmane Berthe and Souleymane Keita, while it was thought a third - Mahamane Traore - would also miss out. His departure from the competition was even processed by the Confederation of African Football before the Guineans had a change of heart and believed he might just recover after all. Apparently, he's out for another 10 days though, so will he even play in these finals?

1843: As we await the line-ups, a quick reminder of how both teams got to the finals. Guinea were certainly the more impressive qualifiers, managing to knock Nigeria's (not so) Super Eagles out of their group. In fact, the Syli Nationale displayed terrific mental resolve when travelling to Abuja on the final day of qualifying, with their Nigerian hosts needing a good win to go through. They led 2-1 with minutes to play until Guinea scored a dramatic late equaliser. Frenchman Michel Dussuyer, who led Guinea to the 2004 quarter-finals, is back in charge once again but will be without Kevin Constant after the Genoa midfielder asked to be excused from the tournament.

1840: Houfanne in Tanzania has texted in to disagree with Eddy (see 1815), who spoke about the absence of number 10s at this Nations Cup. "Though the Nations Cup is missing the skilful star players, what we have seen is a quick, 'advanced' approach to the game. I've watched every single game and enjoyed them all! By the way, 3-1 to Mali." Well, Mali take on Guinea in just under twenty minutes and we're still waiting for the team news from that one.


1836: Some reaction to today's earlier Group D game which, if you missed it, was won 1-0 by Ghana. John Mensah was both hero and villain, scoring the match-winner against Botswana in the first half before being sent off in the second. Botswana captain Diphetogo 'Dipsy' Selolwane was suspended for the match but this was what he told the BBC from the stands. "The boys really tried. Ghana showed their class and professionalism - when they really needed to step up, they did. It's a learning curve for us but it's important that we came out and tried."

1826: And some other intriguing African football news. Former Arsenal, Fulham and West Ham winger Luis Boa Morte has chosen to spend the next 18 months of his career at Orlando Pirates in South Africa. The 34-year-old was last playing in Greece and will join Benni McCarthy at the Johannesburg club - one of the two biggest sides in South Africa (along with Kaizer Chiefs).

1822: Further Nations Cup news away from Group D is that today, the Equatorial Guinea squad found themselves with a cheque for one million dollars after the son of the country's president honoured his cash promise. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue handed captain Juvenal Edjogo a cheque this afternoon , even awarding a cash bonus to not just goalscorer Javier Balbao but also a striker whose effort was ruled out for offside. Ivan Bolado had the ball in the net - and clearly Mangue was feeling in generous mood this afternoon. The bonus has attracted some questions though, as you can read here.



1818: Well, away from today's Group D games, there was some bad news today for Niger midfielder Moutari Amadou. The 18-year-old came on in the second half of yesterday's defeat to Gabon but what should have been a memorable moment proved unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. The victim of a foul from Gabon goalscorer Stephane Nguema, it has now been confirmed that Amadou has broken his leg - meaning his Nations Cup appearance lasted barely a quarter of an hour. Given that Niger are not regular qualifiers for this tournament, could that be his only participation at Africa's top football tournament in his career? One hopes not.

1815: Opening a different conversation, Eddy in the US believes that the 2012 finals are missing the stars of yesteryear. "These Nations Cup games are tedious to watch," he has texted in to +44 77 86 20 20 08. "Since silky players like Kanu, Okocha & now Eto'o are absent, Africa is struggling to produce creative number 10s."

1812: Nana, a devoted Ghana fan and BBC online follower, has texted in his reaction to the Black Stars' narrow 1-0 defeat of Botswana. "Ghana does not need Annan. Ghana has disappointed me." Well, a win's a win even if it wasn't the most convincing.

1807: So yet another tight game at this Nations Cup final, where only one game has been won by more than one goal so far - Gabon's 2-0 victory at home to Niger yesterday. But what did you make of Ghana's opening display? Impressed, or do they have work to do? And what about Botswana, who made a game of it and could easily have scored but for some excellent Black Stars defending? That aside, are there any Malian or Guinean fans out there - and if so, what are your expectations ahead of tonight's game? Might we just see the first draw of the finals?

By Stephen Fottrell

1800: Stand by for our next game in Group D, with Mali meeting neighbours Guinea, also in Franceville. Get your texts in ahead of that one for Piers Edwards to sift through.

1756: And the Black Stars get their winning start, with John Mensah grabbing the only goal of the game against a spirited Botswana side, before the captain earned himself a red card trying to stop the Zebras from equalising. Ghana will be happy and relieved with that, but they enjoyed the better chances, and will hope to improve in their next game against Mali.

1752: FULL-TIME! Ghana 1-0 Botswana

1751: Annan goes very close for Ghana, after a lovely flick on from Gyan, but Ghana look like they just want to hear the whistle.

1750: Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane showing his frustration at his side's inability to get through.

1749: Zebras fans will be disappointed perhaps that their team is not able to take advantage of their numerical superiority here, but Ghana are doing well to repel any balls into the box.

1746: BBC African Footballer of the Year Dede Ayew is replaced by Abu Mohammed.

1745: Ghana looking to keep the ball down the channels now at the far end of the pitch, a little early for that perhaps.

1742: We're reminded of historic precedent by an anonymous texter in the US: "I was at the game in Accra when John Mensah got sent off at Afcon 2008 against the Nigerian Super Eagles. The mighty Black Stars still won 2-1. No big deal." Is that said confidently or hopefully, I wonder, US texter..

1741: Ghana would settle for a 1-0 now, I would think. How many Black Stars fans said that after they went ahead?

1739: Botswana surging forward now with Mongala sprinting in from the left and shooting across Kwarasey's goal, with the young keeper parrying away.

1736: Yellow card for Botswana captain Mompathi Thuma for his tackle on Gyan, with the two men exchanging a couple of pleasantries afterwards.

1734: The Black Stars finding themselves a bit more on the back foot now after that sending off. Botswana not finding a way through any gaps yet, though.

1731: Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic withdraws Sulley Muntari and sends on Jonathan Mensah in his place.

1729: Botswana waste the resulting free kick from right on the edge of the area, but with Ghana down to 10 men and missing their captain now, the Zebras have a very good chance to get back into this tie.

1726: And goalscorer and captain Mensah is forced into a last ditch tackle as Ramatlhakwane is put clean through, and earns a red card for bringing the striker down on the edge of the box.

1724:RED CARD - Ghana! John Mensah.

1723: Sulley Muntari wastes a free kick just outside the area as he blasts over.

1721: Botswana venture forward again encouragingly for Zebras fans, with Mongala shooting straight at Kwarasey, but the whistle had already sounded for offside.

1719: Ghana make their first change with Jordan Ayew being replaced by Masahudu Alhassan and Botswana also make a change with Motsepe replaced by Mogakolodi Ngele.

1716: Mongala and Moemedi both looking lively now for Botswana, but the Ghana defence looking solid, apart from that one heart-stopping moment for them..

1712: And Botswana have the first chance of the second half, and their first proper chance of the game, with Moemedi unlucky not to see his header find the net, after nodding across goal, following good build-up play from Botswana.

1708: Gyan making some great running out wide, on the left this time..

1706: And Ghana straight away settle into an easy rhythm, as they did throughout the first period.

1703: And we're back underway in Franceville, with Ghana kicking us off again, just after forming a huddle in the middle of the park..

1701: Sparing a thought for Ghana's absent neighbours, Nick, in Hull, texts: "As a Nigerian, following the Nations Cup without Nigeria is painful but it's a bitter pill we need to swallow. Until we get our acts together both on and off the pitch, we will we continue to suffer such embarrassment." Not quite revealing who you're backing at the tournament there though, Nick..

1655: Phil, in the UK, texts: "Ghana going strong. They require a two-goal lead though. New teams like Botswana put in a determined display usually towards the end of the match." Wise words, Phil. You've been doing your homework, I think.

1652: A pretty comfortable performance overall from Ghana so far, then, and while Botswana aren't exactly being overrun on their Nations Cup debut by one of the favourites, they haven't really looked like scoring themselves yet.

1647: HALF-TIME! Ghana 1-0 Botswana

1644: Ghana fans in fine voice, as their team look comfortable approaching half-time. Still just the one goal in it, mind.

1642: Gyan breaks into the box himself from the right, before firing one wide of the near post.

1640: The two Ghana frontmen Gyan and Jordan Ayew are linking up well, with Gyan attempting to latch onto a through ball from the 20-year-old Ayew, and then Ayew himself attempting a shot from outside the box, which Marumo gathers comfortably.

1638: The Black Stars' own defence also well deserving of a mention, with Mensah leading from the back, after putting his side ahead.

1635: Ghana keeping the pressure up, with the Zebras defence back in formation again to repel attacks, after that one indiscretion for the goal at the set-piece.

1633: An anonymous Ghana texter says: "Great tap in from the captain. Go Ghana Black Stars. It's going to be a great win for the Black Stars."

1630: Skipper Mensah leading by example there and Gyan helped the ball along nicely with the deftest of flicks at the near post.

1628: And John Mensah buries an in-swinging corner from close range. The ball completely evaded the Zebras' defence there, but Mensah was alert enough to knock it home.

1626: GOAL! Ghana 1-0 Botswana.

1624: Botswana deserve some credit, though, for not allowing the Black Stars to put many passes together anywhere near their area, confining them to the midfield area so far.

1621: A pretty tame opening so far it's fair to say..

1620: Kwamena, in Ghana texts: "The Black Stars have got to win this match impressively to make a huge statement." They'll have to create a goal-scoring opportunity first, Kwamena.

1618: The attendance hasn't really increased since before kick-off with plenty of empty seats in Franceville.

1617: A few cheap free kicks being given away by Botswana, mainly by Motsepe, with the latest effort from Agyemang going meekly straight out.

1613: Nice easy passing from the Black Stars, but Botswana not giving much space away yet. Gyan's attempted flick-on goes straight to Zebras keeper Modiri Marumo.

1611: Motsepe then welcomes Gyan to the game by standing on the Al Ain man's foot. It's ok Ghana fans, though, he's back on his feet..

1609: A first proper foray forward for Botswana sees Patrick Motsepe snatch at the ball and send it high and wide.

1607: Ghana playing the ball around comfortably early doors, with a first free kick looking for Gyan, who can't quite get to it.

1604: An anonymous texter in the UK says:"The Zebras have been waiting for their chance to shine, now is their time in the limelight, here's to outshining the Black Stars."

1601: And we're off at Stade De Franceville, with Botswana getting us underway for their very first Nations Cup finals match.

1558: A respectable number of the ever-loyal Black Stars fans in attendance. They have taken their seats at least..

1557: So Ghana about to open their 2012 Nations Cup account looking to end a 30-year continental trophy drought. Is this finally the year Black Stars fans?

1555: And the teams walk out in kits that, it must be said, look quite similar. A challenge there for the men in the media box.

1553: The Gabonese fans are slow to take their seats inside the Stade De Franceville. They're just numbering their hundreds with minutes to go to kick-off.

1550: And for Botswana, currently unattached striker Jerome Ramatlhakwane, who has regained full match fitness, starts. The Zebras will be looking to him for inspiration, in place of Botswana legend Diphetogo 'Dipsy' Selolwane, who is suspended for today's game.

1546: So, just to digest those line-ups ahead of kick-off. For Ghana, goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey and John Boye will make their Nations Cup debuts. Boye perhaps a surprise addition in place of Jonathan Mensah And Jordan Ayew joins his brother Dede Ayew in the Black Stars line-up.

1540: Botswana line-up: Modiri Marumo, Ndiyapo Letsholathebe, Misimanegape Ramohibidu, Mompathi Thuma, Ofentse Nato, Penyo Mongala, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Moemedi Moatlhaping, Patrick Motsepe, Mogogi Gabonamong, Thsepo Motlhabankwe

1538: And the teams are in...Ghana line-up: Adam Kwarasey, John Paintsil, Samuel Inkoom, John Boye, John Mensah, Anthony Annan, Jordan Ayew, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Asamoah Gyan, Andre 'Dede' Ayew, Sulley Muntari.

1535: Botswana are the third debutants to take their bow at this tournament, after Equatorial Guinea and Niger, who achieved mixed results. The co-hosts, of course got off to a great start against Libya, but Niger were beaten by the other co-hosts Gabon on Monday. What odds on the Zebras creating the biggest upset of the tournament so far? Your texts please on that one. Am sure there may be one or two in Ghana wishing to comment on that too..

1530 GMT: So off we go again - day four of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, and we've seen some cracking opening round ties so far. But before we have time to reflect on them for too long, we're straight into two more fascinating match-ups in Franceville - with the mighty Black Stars of Ghana facing one of the surprise packages of the qualifiers, Botswana, and neighbours Mali and Guinea meeting later for the first time competitively in eight years. Bring it on, I say.



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