No less without Ess: Ghana qualified despite the knee injury to Michael Essien [GALLO/GETTY]
Ghana shrugged off the loss of star player Michael Essien to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 win over ten-man Burkina Faso.

Andre Ayew scored a header after half an hour to prevent their fellow West Africans clinching the draw they needed to qualify for the knockout rounds for only the second time in their history, after finishing fourth as hosts in 1998.

Ghana finish second in Group B behind Cote d'Ivoire to set up a quarter-final with Group A winners and hosts Angola in the capital.

Goalkeeper Richard Kingson, Ghana's captain, said his young side could go on to win the trophy.

'No juniors'

"I was telling them from the start that this tournament is not against junior sides, it's going to be tough and they have to be prepared physically and mentally," said Kingson, who is a reserve for English Premier League side Wigan Athletic.

"This is my fifth tournament and I am pleased with them because they are really determined to play and they are ready to play any team who comes across us.

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"We're here to win the Cup and I believe in the boys, that they're going to deliver."

With Togo out of the competition following the attack on their bus before the start of this Africa Cup of Nations, all Burkina Faso had to do was get a point after their surprise draw with the Ivorians in their first match.

Ghana had to win. But it was Burkina Faso who had the best chance early on, Jonathan Pitroipa going on a solo run and forcing a smart save from Kingson after eight minutes.

The Black Stars got the goal they needed when Samuel Inkoom whipped a cross from the right and 20-year-old Ayew, whose father Abedi Pele won Ghana's last title in 1982, was the highest of a line of jumpers as he headed past Daouda Diakite.

Injured Chelsea midfielder Essien appeared to be texting the score to someone as he was pictured in the stands, as Ghana's small travelling support celebrated in a largely empty November 11 stadium.

Pockmarked

The game continued to be pockmarked by long-range half-chances, and Burkina Faso threatened to break Ghanaian hearts when Wilfried Balima and Pitroipa carved them open with some clever passing 20 minutes into the second half, before Pitroipa unleashed a harmless shot on goal.

Mamadou Tall was shown a second yellow card a minute later before Ghana twice hit the side netting within 15 minutes of the end as they finished the stronger, with Burkina Faso's Issouf Kone blazing a 90th-minute free kick high over the bar.

Angola face Ghana in Luanda while Cote d'Ivoire play Algeria in Cabinda on January 24.

"It was a bad game but that's football," said Burkina Faso's Patrick Zoundi.

"We were supposed to come back at them stronger but we didn't."

Essien left the stadium on crutches after injuring his knee in training on Sunday, having come on as a substitute in Ghana's 3-1 defeat to Cote d'Ivoire.

Source: Al Jazeera