Ghana coach Stevanovic, who took over management of the team in January, said he was 'satisfied ' with the win  [EPA]

Three second-half goals were enough for Ghana's Black Stars to notch up a 3-1 win over the Republic of Congo in their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Friday at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.

Ghana scored three second-half goals in Michael Essien's first international appearance in over a year to beat their 10-man Congolese opposition.

Second half goals from Isaac Vorsah, Prince Tagoe and Emmanuel Agyemang Badu kept the four-time champions on track for a place at the 28th edition of Africa’s premier footballing event.

The tournament, taking place between January 21 and February 21 next year, will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and this weekend sees a host of qualifiers for the 16-spot finals.

Results & fixtures

Friday June 3
 Ghana 3-1 Congo

Saturday June 4
 Uganda v Guinea-Bissau
 Zambia v Mozambique
 Morocco v Algeria
 Namibia v Burkina Faso Cameroon v Senegal
 Sierra Leone v Niger

Sunday June 5
 Botswana v Malawi
 Liberia v C V Islands
 Guinea v Madagascar
 Burundi v Rwanda
 Swaziland v Sudan
 Angola v Kenya
 Zimbabwe v Mali
 Comoros v Libya
 C African Rep v Tanzania
 Mauritius v Congo DR
 Benin v Cote d’Ivoire
 Ethiopia v Nigeria
 Tunisia v Chad
 Egypt v South Africa

The result for Ghana puts them three points clear at the top of qualifying Group I, with second-placed Sudan playing away at Swaziland on Sunday. 
Essien start

Playing for Ghana for the first time since last year's Africa Cup of Nations tournament, Chelsea midfielder Essien was substituted midway through the second half at Baba Yara Stadium - soon after Ghana had gone 2-0 ahead.

Matt Moussilou scored the visitors' only goal.

Congo had key defender Bruce Abdoulaye sent off in the 48th and the visitors went behind just four minutes later through Vorsah's back-post header from a corner.

Prince Tagoe made it 2-0 in the 69th with another header before Moussilou pulled one back for Congo in the 76th, benefiting from a rebound after an error from Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

But Agyemang-Badu hit his first goal for Ghana from long range a minute later to wrap up the win for the hosts in Kumasi. Ghana is now unbeaten in four qualifying games.

"It was a great second half performance,'' Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic said.

"Most of the players have had a long season and have other issues to sort out with their clubs over their futures.

"But I think they were good later on. The second half was OK."

"I am satisfied. I knew it was not going to be easy, Congo are tough.''

Source: Agencies