Ghana's captain John Mensah celebrates his side's victory [Reuters]

Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari hit a 90th minute pile driver to give the hosts a 2-1 victory over Guinea in the opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations.

In a move seen already at his club in England Muntari ran through the defence and sent an unstoppable 25-metre shot past Guinea goalkeeper Kemoko Camara to give the Black Stars three points in Group A.

Asamoah Gyan had given Ghana the lead in the 54th minute from the penalty spot, but Guinea show plenty of enterprise to equalise in the 64th when Oumar Kalabane scored.

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Football fever grips Ghana

Gyan showed his composure from the penalty spot to bury his chance after Kalabane had tripped Junior Agogo in the area.

While Kalabane went from villain to hero when he scored off a corner from Ismael Bangoura to silence the passionate home crowd, even for a moment.

In a scoreless first half Ghana hit the post three times, and looked to be free of the weight of expectation in their positive approach.

Agogo was the first to hit the woodwork with a header in the 20th minute, with the ball then going across the face of the goal before rolling out of danger.

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien then had his turn with another header in the 28th, while Muntari sent a warning shot as his 40th minute rattled against the post.

Bangoura had Guinea's best chances in the first half, but twice he wasted chances by sending shots well off target.

Carnival atmosphere

There was a carnival atmosphere in the streets leading up to the Ohene Djan stadium as flag-waving fans danced to the nonstop sound of whistles.

Asamoah Gyan of Ghana, right, and Oumar
Kalabane of Guinea fight for the ball [Reuters] 
Some locals painted their whole bodies in the red, yellow and green colours of the national flag, while others walked on giant stilts or wore weird and colourful face masks, all accompanied by the incessant drum rhythm of local bands.

Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor, CAF president Issa Hayatou, Fifa chief Sepp Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini were among about 40,000 fans watching the opening ceremony, which featured hundreds of dancers and acrobats.

The stadium erupted with noise as Ghana's players came out to warm up, but it was nothing compared to the noise after the final whistle in which the fans celebrated the victory as though it had secured the side a fifth Africa Nations Cup crown.

On Monday, Morocco will face Namibia in the other group match.

Source: Agencies