10 February 2013

Ghana/Mali: Black Stars Fall Twice in a Row

Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Sigamary Diarra put the seal on Mali's win with an injury-time goal.

Port Elizabeth — Mali grabbed third place at the African Nations Cup on Saturday, overcoming slippery conditions in Port Elizabeth to again beat Ghana to the bronze medals.

Their 3-1 win mirrored the two-goal victory they had this time last year in the third and fourth place play-off game in Malabo.

Although it is little consolation for their dramatic defeat by Nigeria in Wednesday's semi-final final in Durban, credit must go to Mali's resilience in picking themselves up and outperforming a robust but largely ineffectual Black Stars line-up.

Mali led 1-0 at half-time, doubled the lead shortly afterwards but then had to ensure an anxious last few minutes when Ghana pulled one back before Mali scored again in stoppage time to restore their two-goal advantage.

Mahamadou Samasaa broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, as Adama Tamboura powered down the left flank before crossing for Samassa to head home with a diving effort.

Samassa came agonisingly close for Mali three minutes from the break as he managed to lift a neat ball over the onrushing goalkeeper Fatau Dauda, but his chip hit the upright.

Seydou Keita doubled the lead just after half time, ghosting into the penalty area to convert a cross from Ousmane Coulibaly.

Ghana could have got back into the match in the 58th minute when a handball by Salif Coulibaly presented them with a penalty, but Mubarak Wakaso hit it high over the top. He had previously converted three spot kicks at the tournament and had he scored would have moved onto five goals and a strong chance to finish as the leading goalscorer.

But Ghana did set up a frenetic finish when Kwadwo Asamoah's long-range effort in the 82nd minute was allowed into the net by shaky Mali goalkeeper Soumbeyla Diakite, who fumbled several timed in a nervous second-half showing.

Second-half replacement Sigamaray Diarra had the last say, restoring Mali's advantage and ensuring victory in injury time, after he volleyed in a well-taken effort from inside the Ghana area.

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