That was woeful match. Difficult, difficult viewing. Little creativity or precision, lots of fouls. But the win is precious for Ghana and puts them at the top of Group B, pending tonight's game between DR Congo and Niger. With Niger Ghana's last opponents, the Black Stars should reach the quarter-finals. Mali need to improve to bother DR Congo.
Badu goes for multiple rolls after a rough tackle by Ndiaye, who's one of countless players already on a yellow. The ref decides against giving him another one.
Keita clumps the ball into the penalty area from a freekick on the left. Pantsil heads clear. Mali have really suffered from a lack of imagination. And accuracy.
Corner to Mali. if Ghana let this slip, they'll only have themselves to blame. They have lacked initiative throughout. As it turns out, the corner gave rise to nothing more dangerous than a kerfuffle in the box, followed by a player in yellow bogging the ball away off target.
Diawara canters down the right and swings in a good cross that Boye nods out for a corner. Daouda comes to collect .... but this time completely misses it. Luckily for him, no Malian was able to retrieve it and punish him.
Asante goes quite close with his first touch! Naturally, the chance was not created by a flowing move, rather a defender goofed and coughed up the ball to the new striker, who let fly from 25 yards. It was a half-decent effort that flunked a few yards wide.
Ghana sub: Asante on, Admoah off.
Atsu attempts to make something happen. He steams down the left and fails to get his cross past the first man.
This is dreadful.
A Mali freekick from deep provokes panic in the Ghana box but after a bit of pingpong they manage to hoof the ball away.
A well struck freekick from Badu heads towards the bottom corner. Samassa pushes it around the post and then claims the corner ... and then roars at Badu for daring to challenge him. Get on with it!
Ghana sub: Boateng on, Asamoah off.
Mali sub: Samassa on, Traoré off.
Atsu, who has just come on as a sub, curls a nice corner into the box. Vorsah rises well but heads badly over.
Ghana are losing shape and perhaps even energy: Mali are grinding their way back into this. Any minute now they may have a shot on target.
During a break between fouls, Mali make a substitution: Samba Sow replaces Sissoko.
This really is torpid. Coulibaly becoems the latest recipient of a yellow but the game has been grey.
Strong running by Admoah down the right, followed by a perfectly acceptable cross to the near post. Diawara beast Gyan to it.
Another yellow card, this time for Mohammed. As in the Ghana midfielder.
Vorsah goofs in the left-back position but Maiga, having stripped him off the ball, botches his cross. Moments later Sissoko swings in a decent ball from the right and Diabaté, having escaped the attentions of the defence, tonks the ball out of play whilst attempting to trap it. ' Sake.
Dauda has been excellent on dealing with crosses today. He's just claimed another Traoré corner, aborting what is likely Mali's best chance of scrounging an equaliser.
Corner to Ghana. Wakaso's delivery is decent but it's headed clear at the near post and then .... the ref blows for another foul. Free out.
Gyan collects a long ball outside the box, swivels, then curls a shot just wide from 20 yards.
Admoah fires a useful cross from the right into the six-yard box, but Gyan had halted his run so wasn't there to profit.
What ill wind has been blowing around African dressing rooms in the last 12 months? One of the features of last year's tournament was the honesty of the players, which contrasted so pleasantly with what we regularly see in European matches. But so far in this tournament playacting and related chicanery have been rampant. It's annoying.
Ndiaye becoems the latest player to go into the book. Really has been too many fouls in this fractured game. Admoah takes the freekick from the right and Samassa punches it away.
Samba Diakité earns his customary yellow card. Wakaso curls the resultant freekick over the bar from 25 yards.
Aye, aye: action! That's a bright start to the half from the men in yellow. Keita loped forward and clipped a deft ball into the danger zone, where Diabaté narrowly failed to collect. I can now reveal, by the weay, that Maiga replaced Diarra.
Mali, wisely, have made a change: West Ham's Modibo Maiga is on. I can't tell you yet who came off. Not because it's a secret whose disclosure would necessitate killing you or anything, just because I don't know.
It's been boring. But at least the right time are in front: the modicum of inspiration we have seen has come from Ghana, who have also been more dynamic than the pedestrian Malians. Patrice Carteron needs to be bolder or his team are just going to trudge to an uneventful defeat.
Daouda goes down after plucking the ball from in front of Diabaté. He writhes and wriggles as if to convey the notion that he is grievously injured. I'll be surprised if he really is.
Ghana ping some crisp passes around as Mali lumber after them. But that bout of good play comes to an end when Badu booms the ball over the bar from 25 yards. So far, the only shot on target in the game was the converted penalty.
Mali have shown nothing so far to suggest they can get back into this. Ndiaye, mind you, is currently performing some world class acting as he tries to get Asamoah into trouble after the midfielder inadvertently catches him lightly with an arm as they challenged for the ball.
GOAL! Ghana 1-0 Mali (Wakaso pen 37)
Gyan vowed pre-tournament not to take any penalties so the task falls to Wakaso. He executes it perfectly, driving a left-footed shot into the corner past the keeper, who went the right way. Wakaso then gets booked for raising his short - without actually removing it. Seems harsh from a ref who doesn't expel keepers for stopping a clear goalscoring chance by handling outside the area. Wakaso will now miss the next game.
Penalty to Ghana!
After a lovely turn and pass from Gyan, Badu was brought down in the box by Tamboura, author of a ridiculous challenge.
Action! Wakaso stepped up to swing in a freekick from 35 yards and slipped as he did so ... but that seemed to improve his accuracy. Badu, of whom we have seen little so far, leaped to prominence on the penalty spot and directed a powerful header past the goalkeeper .... and against the outside of the post!
Too many fouls.
Asamoah is starting to get a little more involved in forward positions for Ghana, and Afful is doing his best to provide options down the left. If he could the provision of decent crosses to his repertoire, we might get something approximating an attack.
Diabaté shunts Afful to the ground around half-way. Little else has happened since we last spoke.
Afful, having sussed that no one around him has come up with a better idea, decides to have a shot from 25 yards. Into the empty stands it sails.
The onus is on Ghana to generate chances here but so far they've look ponderous and, to be frank, little of interest has happened. We'll soon get to the stage where spectators might have to hope for some ballboy-related hijinks for entertainment.
There are very few people rattling around the cavernous stadium in Port Elisabeth - how's that for a World Cup legacy, eh? - but it appears that there are at least a couple of laudable funsters:
Diabaté tries to trick his way past Afful but has to settle for a corner. Diarra's delivery can be added to the burgeoning collection of set-piece dross. They're really not making this an easy watch.
Dreadful set-pieces deliveries have been a general feature of this tournament, and Wakaso has just produced one of the worst of the genre.
RIght on cue, Gyan gets a pass to feet and, despite Tamboura's attempt to tear his shorts off, manages to get in a shot from 16 yards. It's deflected behind for a corner, which is subsequently cleared by Samassa.
Gyan, all on his lonesome up front, has got no change out of the Malian centrebacks so far, mainly because the passing towards him is aimless and playing into the hands, or rather the heads, of the defence.
Asamoah, you may or may not care to know, appears to be playing in midfield, after all. But he's not getting much of the ball, as the game remains scrappy.
Traoré seemed to be shaping to shoot, but Keita took everyone by surprise and sneaked a foxy low curler around the wall ... and just past the post!
A mix-up in the Ghanaian defence as Boye leaves t he ball for Dauda, who handles out his box. The ref decides against showing him a red card, settling for a yellow, much to the relief of the keeper. Freekick to Mali from 18 yards. Ghana erect a nine-man wall.
Diarra lumps a freekick into the box but it's misguided and Ghana easily clear. No pattern to proceedings as yet, lots of mid-paced huff and puff.
Mali kick off, resplendent in yellow. QPR fans may be interested to note that Samba Diakité has been added to their side since their opening day victory over Niger. And he hasn't fouled anyone yet.
You join us as each side is paying homage to their national anthem and, if you want my opinion, Mali have the edge on that front, with their tune being a purposeful, strident number that tells you you're dealing with people who'll brook no guff. That's pretty much how their team plays too. Ghana, well, who knows how they'll play? The line-up below may not show it, but word is Kwadwo Asamoah, the skillful Juventus midfield, is again to be deployed at left-back, as he was in the first game, leaving the Black Stars with a gaping creativity void in the middle. This is a game they could do with winning and simply must not lose if they are to avoid an embarrassing first-round exit.
Ghana: 16-Fatau Dauda; 4-John Pantsil, 15-Isaac Vorsah, 21-John Boye, 23-Harrison Afful; 8-Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, 10-Albert Adomah, 11-Rabiu Mohammed, 20-Kwadwo Asamoah; 22-Mubarak Wakaso, 3-Asamoah Gyan
Mali: 1-Mamadou Samassa; 2-Fousseiny Diawara, 3-Adama Tamboura, 4-Adama Coulibaly, 21-Mahamadou Ndiaye; 6-Momo Sissoko, 20-Sambia Diakite, 12-Seydou Keita, 17-Mahamane Traore; 11-Sigamary Diarra, 9-Cheick Tidiane Diabate
Referee: Noumandiez Doue (Ivory Coast).