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U-23 AFCON: Mali take third place and qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics with penalty shootout victory

Days after falling to hosts Morocco in the semifinals via a penalty shootout, Mali found redemption on Friday by overcoming Guinea for Third Place at the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations after defeating the Syli National 4-3 in another penalty shootout. Mohamadou Bah kept his nerve to fire in the winning penalty kick after ninety minutes could not separate the teams, qualifying Mali as one of Africa’s representatives at the 2024 Summer Olympics men’s football tournament in Paris. Guinea will now have to defeat the fourth place finisher from the AFC U-23 Asian Cup in a playoff to qualify for the Olympics.

The West African rivals both struggled to create firm opportunities during the ninety minutes preceding the shootout. Mali nearly found the goal at the end of the first half but Guinea goalkeeper Mory Keita saved an attempt from Alhassane Tamboura before keeping out a long range blast struck by Coli Saco. Mali keeper Lassine Diarra passed his test in the 72nd minute by keeping out a stinging effort from Guinea star Aguibou Camara.

After ninety scoreless minutes it went straight to penalties and like in their defeat to Morocco, Mali failed to score on their opening attempt when Issoufi Maïga rattled the crossbar. Aguibou Camara followed the miss up by hitting the woodwork as well and the teams exchanged two successful penalties each. The match was decided when Guinea forward Seydouba Cisse’s attempt was kicked away by Diarra before Bah fired in the crucial penalty to qualify Guinea for the Olympics.

The full penalty shootout from the Third Place match is below.

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