Cape Town – A penalty in the dying minutes of the game gave Mali a 2-1 victory over Mozambique at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday, for the West Africans to finish top of group A in the 2014 African Nations Championship.
Mozambique, who had already been eliminated from the tournament after losing their first two matches, took the lead in the 39th minute through Josemar “Mario” Machaisse and Mali equalised in the 48th minute through Ibourahima Sidibe before Idrissa Traore scored the decider.
Within the opening seconds of the match, Mali had the ball in the back of the net but the Sudanese referee denied Hamidou Sinayoko a goal as he had kicked the ball from within the grasp of the goalkeeper. Soares Soares did not appear to have total control of the ball but the goal was disallowed.
It was not all one-way traffic but when Mozambique got hold of the ball, Mali stepped up their defence and robbed them of scoring opportunities.
Midway through the first half, Mozambique put together a flurry of passes with the two best chances going to Saddan “Kito” Guambe but both times he put the ball wide, unable to trouble the keeper.
A cross from Diogo Alberto found the feet of Mario who executed perfectly to beat a diving Diakite. The ball hit the left post and went into the back of the net to give the Mambas a surprise 1-0 lead at half-time.
When play resumed after the break, Sidibe, who also scored the equaliser against Bafana Bafana earlier in the week, put his side level with a well-struck shot. Receiving the ball in the box, he twisted and turned to beat the defenders and left the keeper stranded.
Only the crossbar prevented Mali doubling their score a few minutes later as they threw everything at the Mambas.
Mozambique’s’ defence was found wanting when Ousmane Keita’s header flew narrowly over the crossbar from well-taken set piece.
On the hour, Alberto’s free kick curled just wide of the near post after Mozambique were awarded a free kick, after Adama Traore committed a foul with his high-kick tackle on Joao Mazive.
Mali worked hard to close down Mozambique although they could have won the game in the first half, after being denied a penalty.
Mazive conceded the penalty two minutes into extra time, and substitute IdrissaTraore made no mistake sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and ensured Mali’s passage into the knockout phase of the tournament. – Sapa