Ghana's hopes of starting the final round of qualifiers for the 2019 Africa U23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on a high did not go as planned following a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Algeria on Friday.
Adem Zorgane scored first for the visitors in the first-half but Dauda Mohammed's penalty after recess spared the Black Meteors' blushes in the first leg fixture at the Accra Sports Stadium.
The Black Meteors must now hold their own in the return fixture away on Tuesday to join hosts Egypt and six other nations at the November 8-24 championship.
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The African gathering will, in turn, serve as qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, with the top three teams set to represent the continent at the global showpiece.
Ghana coach Ibrahim Tanko opted for Anderlecht loanee Dauda to lead their attack in the absence of top scorer Kwabena Owusu. Fortuna Dusseldorf's Bernard Tekpetey was given a spot just in front of the midfield duo of Celta Vigo's Yaw Yeboah and Red Bull Salzburg's Majeed Ashimeru.
Algeria's starting set-up included Farid El Melali of French side Angers and Hichem Boudaoui who recently joined Nice - also in France.
Although Ghana dominated proceedings in the first-half, it was the visitors who opened the scoring through Zorgane, who drilled a shot into the bottom right corner after receiving an Ismail Saadi cut-back on the half-hour mark.
Three minutes later, Ghana had a good chance to level the score after being awarded a penalty but captain Yeboah skied his effort over the bar despite sending goalkeeper Zakaria Bouhalfaya the wrong way.
A minute to the interval, the Black Meteors went close once again. This time, left-back Gideon Mensah saw his shot from the edge of the box strike the post.
Still dominating after the break, Ghana finally found a way back into the game in the 65th minute when Dauda converted a second penalty to make it 1-1 after Yeboah was fouled in the box.
Ghana mounted more pressure for a winner but the North Africans held their own to secure the draw.