10 February 2013

Ghana/Mali: Mali Beat Ghana to Claim Bronze

Mali secured bronze at the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations after beating Ghana 3-1 on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Mahamadou Samassa, Seydou Keita and substitute Sigamary Diarra scored for the Malians whilst Kwadwo Asamoah grabbed a consolation for Ghana.

The Malians had the better of the game, a repeat of last year's third place match to confirm their superiority over the West African counterparts. Just like last year, Ghana won the earlier meeting at the group phase whilst Mali emerged superior in the penultimate match of the tournament.

Both teams made changes to their starting line-up with Ghana handing starting roles to Richard Kissi Boateng and Awal Mohamed for the first time whilst Mali saw experienced defender Adama Coulibaly making a return to the team.

The game commenced on a low tempo with both teams in search of their feet in the opening minutes. Mali got off well, dominating the early stages despite Ghana also having a fair share of opportunities at goal.

The Black Stars threatened first on 14 minutes but Christian Atsu's goal-bound shot from close range was no problem for Mali goalie Soumaila Diakite who parried it out.

Les Aigles organised themselves making runs at their opponents defence and their efforts will yield dividends on 21 minutes initiated by left-back Adama Tamboura, who raced upfront before crossing to Samassa, who headed home for the opener.

The Malians remained in control upfront and three minutes before half time, Samassa was unlucky to have doubled the lead with an effort during a one-on-one situation with Ghana goalie Fatau Dauda his shot hit the upright to the relief of the Black Stars.

Just before half time, Keita almost doubled the lead for his side, profiting from a head flick from lanky striker Cheick Diabate. Keita's toe poke shot missed narrowly after beating onrushing Dauda.

Two minutes from recess, Mali deservingly increased the tally with the second goal through Keita.

Midfielder Traore Mahamane got the best of Ghana left back Kissi Boateng before squaring into the heart of the Ghana defence before Keita blasted home.

Ghana coach Kwasi Appiah introduced Jonathan Mensah for John Boye as varied options at the rear.

As they probed forward, the Black Stars earned a penalty on 56 minutes after Coulibaly handled in the vital area. However, Wakaso, who had scored from the spot thrice earlier in the tournament blasted wide to the dismay of all, leaving the two-goal lead of Mali intact.

Ghana managed to reduce the deficit through Asamoah eight minutes from time and piled pressure for the equalizer. As the clock ticked on, Sigamary sealed victory with the third goal in added-on time in their last attack of the game.

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