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Africa Cup: Mali wins over South Africa

Africa Cup: Mali wins over South Africa

By making efficient use of their chances, Mali won their opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations against South Africa. The team, led by Amadou Haidara from Leipzig, now occupies the top spot in Group E.

His opening goal against South Africa was widely celebrated: Mali's Hamare Traoré.
AFP via Getty Images

Mali, led in midfield by Leipzig player Haidara, controlled the match from the beginning and tried to combine in front of the South African goal. However, West Africa made a lot of mistakes, as did South Africa, so the level remained very easy in the first half.

Haidara fired the first warning shot, and Williams easily blocked his shot from 25 meters (9th). On the other hand, Tau failed to hit a low shot past Diarra (14th). Shortly afterwards, Bafana Bafana had a great chance to take the lead when, after using VAR, they were awarded a penalty after an elbow from Nyakati. But Tau hit the penalty kick over the crossbar (19). The striker also missed a third opportunity in the 35th minute, which was blocked by the Mali goalkeeper from a narrow angle.

Two goals from Traoré and Senayoko

Shortly before the break, after a positional error by the South African defense, Senayuku was alone in front of Williams, but his attempt to pass the ball past the goalkeeper (45+2). This opportunity gave the West African team a new boost with which they came out of the locker room: shortly after the break, Haidara passed into the penalty area, but shot over the goal from a distance of ten meters (49).

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Mali were now much better in the game, South Africa were no longer able to take the lead and were facing increasing defensive problems. The favorites finally rewarded themselves with a double blow: first, Traoré scored after Doumbia hit the crossbar (60'), and six minutes later Senayoko scored from the outside of his foot after a South African error early in the match to equalize. 2-0 (66').

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Mokoena hits the post from 30 meters

The game then petered out, with both teams again becoming dangerous after a long-range shot: Haidara shot wide from the left (85), and in stoppage time, Mokoena hit the post with a tricky touch from the post. 30 meters (90').+4) – Diarra's only shot on target in the second half.

Thanks to an improved and effective second-half performance, Mali won the match against troubled South Africa and finished top of Group E, level on points with Namibia. In the second preliminary round, Mali continues its confrontation against Tunisia on Saturday (9 p.m.), which was in a difficult position after its first defeat against Namibia. A day later (9pm) South Africa faces a challenge against its neighbors from Namibia.