Vincent Aboubakar scored a brace from penalty spots to give hosts Cameroon a 2-1 win over Burkina Faso on Sunday in Yaounde.
The 33rd Cup of Nations was then postponed last year because of the pandemic.
The opening ceremony were attended by 88 year old Cameroonian President Paul Biya, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Confederation of African Football supremo Patrice Motsepe.
A raft of positive Covid-19 cases among participating teams, organisers now have chose to cap crowd limits at 60 percent of capacity, or 80 percent when the hosts play.
Burkina Faso were hit with Covid-19 cases on the eve of the tournament with head coach Kamou Malo and several players tested positive, leaving assistant coach Firmin Sanou to take charge.
Gustavo Sangare gave the Stallions the lead in 24′ mins of Group A opener.
The 29 year old former Porto player Aboubakar, who netted the winner in the 2017 Cup of Nations final against Egypt, then equalised in 40′ mins from the penalty spot via a VAR review confirmed a foul by Bertrand Traore on Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
Aboubakar then scored from another penalty spot during stoppage time of the first half which proved to be the decider.
The home team came from behind to beat the 2013 Cup of Nations runners up at the 60,000 seat Olembe Stadium.
Cameroonian victory on Sunday night was celebrations around the country with fireworks lighting up the sky in the economic capital Douala, where car horns and vuvuzelas sounded in the city’s streets.
“It was an important victory for us,” said Toni Conceicao, the Portuguese coach of Cameroon.
“We knew that playing at home in the opening game was going to be a bit stressful and that there was a psychological weight on the players’ shoulders, but they reacted well to falling behind.
“It wasn’t a great performance, but winning was what mattered.”