Mali made history by advancing to the semi-finals for the first time thanks to a 3-2 victory over Algeria on Friday at the Cape Coast Stadium. The result saw the West Africans go through alongside Cameroon who held host Ghana 1-1 in Accra, effectively ending the campaign of the Black Queens.
Mali needed two goals from substitute Fatoumata Diarra to achieve the great feat, their best ever outing in the history of the biennial championship since making their debut in 2002.
The Malians made early incursions in the game as they were seeking for a win at all cost to cement their place in the last four.
Winger Salimata Diarra was brought down inside box following an excellent display to win a penalty for the 'Les Aigles'. Bassira Toure's kick was too weak as goalkeeper Kahina Takenint parried it away in the 19th minute.
Despite the Malians' dominance, Algeria broke the deadlock in the 38th minute when Lydia Belkacemi headed home an excellent free-kick by Myriam Benlazar.
Thirteen minutes after recess, Fatoumata Diarra's low drive shot beat goalkeeper Takenint to draw level.
Imene Merrouche converted a penalty to restore Algeria's lead in the 63rd following a handball incident inside the box.
With seven minutes away from the final whistle, Aissatou Diadhiou's long drive effort from the centre beat goalie Takenint to pull parity for the second time.
Mali sealed their win with the last kick of the game through a spot kick by Fatoumata Diarra.
Elsewhere in Accra, Portia Boakye put Ghana up midway before Christine Manie levelled for Cameroon from the spot just before the break.
Cameroon topped the group with seven points, Mali on six points, Ghana with four points and Algeria in that order pointless.
Mohamed Saloum Houssein (Head Coach, Mali)
We have qualified to the semi-finals for the first time and we thank God for this great achievement. We all witnessed a tough encounter and I will admit it wasn't easy.
As the Algerian coach emphasized we experienced inconveniences when we got to Cape Coast. It was stressful to settle down and the journey from Accra was quite long which affected us one way or the other. But we were able to put measures in place to help overcome the stressful in order to get a good result today. I will say well done to the girls.
We don't have a choice in the semi-finals. Is either we face the first or the second from the other group. I once indicated we are taking each game at a time.
We are now in the semi-finals which has never happened in the history of Malian football and that was my target. Right now we have nothing to lose. We have to calm down and fight till the end. It is up to our opponents to knock us out.
Radia Fertoul (Head Coach, Algeria)
Congratulations to the Malian coach for the victory. I must say it was a difficult game. Even before the match the morale was someway but with courage from the girls we were determined to go for victory.
At least we deserved victory in this game. Some of the factors contributing to our defeat are, one we got here very late yesterday and it took too much time for the girls to settle. Traveling for about 160 kilometres summed up the tiredness on my team as they couldn't get back to full strength before the fixture.
I had only a month and half to prepare the team when I took charge. I will admit that the Football Federation provided all our needs but then our preparations started quite late and also had issues with injuries. Four of my players got hurt when we arrived here.
We lacked experienced looking at the ages of the girls and also only twelve of them have ever played in the Women's AFCON.