Pretoria — Mali has set the stage for the 2013 Africa Nations of Cup (Afcon) by becoming the first team to collect the three maximum points in the group stage match of the continental showpiece.
Mali walloped Niger 1-0 in Group B's second match played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Sunday night.
The crucial goal was scored by Mali skipper Seydou Keita five minutes before the final whistle.
Mali, who dominated the match, is participating in its eighth Afcon, while Niger is appearing for the second time in the competition.
However, the thriller match was between DR Congo and the black stars of Ghana.
Although Ghana were not impressive on the pitch, they were the first to score the two goals, but DR Congo players did not despair as they continued fighting until they equalised. The match ended with a 2-2 draw.
As a result, Mali now leads Group B followed by Ghana, DR Congo and Niger. Later this afternoon, the reigning champions, Zambia, will take on Ethiopia in their Group C opening match at Mbombela Stadium.
Kick-off is at 5pm and it will be followed by another match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso at the same venue at 8pm.