A Didier Drogba header on 39 minutes was all that separated the two sides.

Fielding a strong attacking line up, the Ivorians surged forward early through Chelsea strikers Drogba and Salomon Kalou as well as Arsenal's Gervinho in a three-pronged strike force.

They were assisted in the midfield by Manchester City's reigning African Player of the Year Yaya Toure who broke down attacks from the Sudanese midfielders and set his team-mates through on goal.

The deadlock was broken when Kalou ran wide to the left before crossing to the middle, where Drogba rose highest to nod past keeper Elmuez Mahgoub.

Sudan did not sit back after going behind, however, and they launched quick attacks in response. A Mohamed Bashir attempt went just wide of keeper Boubacar Barry's goal.

As the second half resumed, Barry was made to stretch in order to parry Alaadin Yousif's shot from distance.

Ivory Coast next meet neighbours Burkina Faso while Sudan take on Angola in Group B on January 26.

In Sunday's second match, Angola beat Burkina Faso 2-1 in in Malabo, with the match coming alive in the second half as Mateus Galiano put Angola in the lead, but Alain Traore equalised before Manucho scored the winner.

Mateus gave Angola the lead three minutes after half-time with a piece of individual skill on the right wing.

He dribbled past Paul Koulibaly before unleashing a fierce diagonal strike which beat Diakite and put Angola in the lead.

In the 57th minute Burkina Faso were level when Alain Traore scored with a stunning free kick which left Angola keeper Carlos Fernandes flat-footed.

That was not the end of the action, however, as Angola punished Burkina Faso for trying to pass the ball out of defence in the 68th minute.

Former Manchester United player Manucho won possession, ran wide of his marker and hit an explosive strike from outside the box into the left corner of the goal.