Five time champions and current title holders Cameroon got their 2019 tournament off to a winning start. Ghana were held by a spirited Benin side who got a draw thanks to a striker who used to play in Germany.
Cameroon 2-0 Guinea-Bissau
(Yaya Banana 66', Bahoken 69')
Two goals in three second-half minutes turned the game in Cameroon's favor as the defending champions eventually found a way past a stubborn and somewhat unfortunate Guinea-Bissau.
Competing in only their second ever Africa Cup of Nations, Guinea-Bissau did well to get to halftime level on scores. Cameroon's Christian Bassogog wasted a couple of chances before later setting up Joyskim Dawa, but Jonas Mendes saved his headed effort.
Indeed it was Mendes who looked like he might keep Cameroon at bay all night. In the second half, he denied captain Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting with a brilliant reflex save down to his right.
While Guinea-Bissau occasionally threatened from range, it was Cameroon who continually looked more likely to score.
To the delight of head coach Clarence Seedorf and assistant coach Patrick Kluivert that moment finally came when Yaya Banana powered home a header from a corner. Three minutes later, substitute Stephane Bahoken was on hand to score with his first touch - firing past Mendes after reacting quickest to a cross that deflected into his path.
For Guinea-Bissau it was a day of nearly but not quite, as both Piqueti's glancing header off the far post and Juary Soares' miss in the box proved. For Cameroon it was the first step towards defending their Africa Cup of Nations title.
Ghana 2-2 Benin
(A. Ayew 9', J. Ayew 42' - Pote 2', 63')
Four-time tournament winners Ghana couldn't find the win expected of them against Benin.
Former Dynamo Dresden striker Mickael Pote gave the underdogs an early lead after Ghana's high line was exposed by Hansa Rostock's Cebio Soukou. A brilliant strike by Andre Ayew just seven minutes later settled Ghana's nerves though, with the forward firing in at the near corner.
Benin wrestled back a bit of control but before the break, Hoffenheim's Kasim Adams slipped a delightful ball through for Jordan Ayew, who sent an unstoppable shot into the top corner to give Ghana the lead.
Ghana made life hard for themselves when John Boye, already on a yellow card, delayed taking a free kick and saw a second yellow card as a result. Benin, who haven't been at this stage of the tournament since 2010, sensed a chance. A quick corner later, and Pote flicked the ball home instinctively to level the scores. Benin weren't able to go on and grab the win, but the draw was already enough of a surprise for "The Squirrels".