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Second string Mali side defeats Uganda, ends second stage of WCQ undefeated

Mali completed the second stage of FIFA World Cup qualifying without a loss as Les Aigles took down Uganda 1-0 on Sunday in Agadir, Morocco. Kalifa Coulibaly’s first half goal was all that was needed to aid a Malian side that rested their starters with qualification for the final round already secure. The Eagles end the second stage with sixteen points from their six games while Uganda ends their campaign with nine points in second place.

It was an even affair with Uganda playing for pride and Mali’s reserves attempting to maintain the team’s unbeaten streak. Uganda’s defensive posture throughout qualifying was on display again Sunday as the Cranes utilizing physical play in an attempt to contain their more pedigreed opponents. However, a self inflicted wound left the East African nation with a deficit to overcome after they conceded in the 19th minute. A free kick from Mali’s Moussa Doumbia was served in from out wide and giant striker Kalifa Coulibaly headed towards goal. The header was a weak attempt, but Uganda keeper Ismail Watenga came out prematurely and was unable to scramble back as the ball looped over him and into the net.

Uganda worked hard to find a way back into the match and set pieces were the primary vehicle for their attempts on the Malian goal. A 29th minute Bobosi Byaruhanga corner kick exposed poor marking from the Malian defense but Motherwell FC center back Bevis Mugabi failed to connect on a free header, the ball going off Coulibaly’s head and over his own goal.

After the halftime break, Uganda had a couple more opportunities from set pieces. Leading scorer in the WCQ campaign Fahad Bayo could not get enough power behind a 47th minute header off an Isaac Muleme corner kick and the ball went wide of Mali keeper Ismael Diawara’s goal. Bobosi struck a rocket of a free kick from 25 yards out in the 53rd minute that went wide and a few minutes later it was Ibrahim Orit’s turn to get on the end of a Muleme corner, but his header went wide from six yards out.

Mali’s attack lacked much chemistry and finishing skill throughout the match but Coulibaly’s goal was enough for the three points. Highlights of the match are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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