The Black Queens of Ghana blew away a decent opportunity to book a semi-final spot in the ongoing Total Africa Women's Nations Cup competition when they lost 1-2 to Mali in their second group game yesterday at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Coming on the back of a narrow 1-0 win over Algeria in the tournament opener, the Queens needed a win to urge closer to qualification.
But in the end, the Malians proved superior with the three points to breathe life into their campaign.
Ironically, it was the Queens that had the best start with a series of forays into the Mali area with Portia Boakye testing the Mali goalie, Adoudou Konate with a fierce drive as early as the third minute.
Konate was on hand to deny Priscilla Okyere with a firm save from a long-drive.
The Queens continued with the flurry as Linda Eshun and Janet Ayieyam all watched their strikes fly across the goal with no one to tap in.
But from what appeared to be the first test by the Malians, they earned a penalty in the 22nd minute after the referee adjudged the Ghanaian goalie, Patricia Mantey to have impeded Mali striker Bassira Toure.
The Queens protested the decision but the referee stood her guns and Toure made no mistake from the spot, slotting the ball to the left side of the Ghanaian goal.
The Female Eagles then warmed themselves into the game and created problems for the Queens rear with Toure and Fatoumata Diarra coming close on a few occasions.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw the Queens dictate the pace with Jane Ayieyam and Sherifatu Suleman threatening the goal of the Eagles but found Konate tough to beat.
Though the Malians started the second half fiercely and went close to scoring on two occasions, it was the Ghanaians that dominated and continued with the search for the equaliser as Sherifatu Suleman delivered a left-footed strike which Konate managed to tip to corner.
Left frustrated by the myriad of questionable calls by the referee, Letticia Viana, Ghana Coach, Bashir Hayford effected his first substitution, bringing on team captain, Elizabeth Addo for his midfielder, Priscilla Okyere.
The change set a few tongues wagging but got the desired result when she was brought down in the Mali goal area for a penalty with 19 minutes left for play.
It came as a huge relief for the entire team and the encouraging crowd.
She connected the resultant penalty expertly for the Queens with the hope of going ahead to win the match.
But a needless tackle from Queens' defender Ampah presented the Malians a decent chance very close to the goal area just four minutes after the equaliser.
Fatoumata Diarra fired over the wall but Mantey spilled the ball to the path of Toure who tapped home for the leader again.
The defeat leaves them in a difficult and must-win situation in their last game against Cameroun on Friday.